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Girl’s death triggers Ebola alert

Tight border controls are in place after cases of the deadly Ebola disease have been confirmed in Uganda.

A 12-year-old Ugandan girl died from the highly contagious disease, and health officials say they expect more cases.

Preliminary testing at the Uganda Virus Research Institute showed on Friday that the girl died from the virus on May 6 at Bombo hospital.

"She came into the hospital and died a few hours later," said World Health Organisation disease expert Dr Miriam Nanyunja. "They tested for Ebola and the confirmatory result came out," she told Agence France Presse.

It is the first outbreak of the virus in Uganda in four years, said the east African country’s commissioner for community health, Anthony Mbonye.

There is one case reported but we expect other cases,” he said.

Just one case is considered an epidemic because it can spread quickly and it is highly fatal.

The girl was from Luwero district, 75 km north of Kampala and it is the closest case to the capital ever reported, the official said.
 Ugandan health workers are following up 33 people who had contact with the girl, he said.

Ebola kills about 90 per cent of its victims, who often bleed to death. It is spread by close personal contact and there is neither a treatment nor vaccine for it.

The first symptoms start to appear anytime from two to 21 days after infection and include sudden fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. These are followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, a rash, poor kidney and liver function and internal and external bleeding. Victims start to haemorrhage and cough up or vomit blood, so in outbreaks the disease often spreads from patients to the health care workers looking after them. But by the time symptoms appear, the virus will have reproduced itself many times and spread through the blood to many organs.

Rapid response teams are on standby to treat people showing symptoms, said Mr Mbonye urging people to keep calm. He said the particular strain of the disease was Sudanic ebola, which kills 50 to 60 per cent of people who catch it.

Ebola has caused dozens of deadly outbreaks across Africa and threatens endangered gorillas as well as people. It is also classed as a possible bioterrorism weapon. The last Ebola outbreak in Uganda in 2007 killed 37 people. The country has one of the worst healthcare records in the world.

Hayley attribution