Ebola Strikes Boss Of Gulu Hospital

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Ebola Strikes Boss Of Gulu Hospital The Monitor (Kampala)

December 2, 2000

Carolyne Nakazibwe & Oketch Bitek Kampala

The Medical Superintendent of Lacor Hospital, Dr. Matthew Lokwiya, has tested positive for Ebola and has been admitted for treatment, The Monitor has learnt.

Lokwiya's deputy, Dr. Cyprian Opira, confirmed the report by telephone.

According to sources in Lacor, Lokwiya was admitted Thursday after feeling unwell for about four days. His condition is reported to be stable.

Lacor is one of two hospitals in Gulu where Ebola patients are being treated. Since the onset of the epidemic Oct. 13, a total of 10 Lacor nurses have died from the virulent fever. Lokwiya is the first doctor to be infected.

All student nurses at Lacor have been sent home to reduce risks to medical staff. Laboratory tests in Gulu also confirmed seven new cases from Masindi district in the last three days, as being positive for Ebola antigens.

These coupled with two deaths, have brought Masindi's Ebola cases to 15 with seven deaths, up from eight cases last week. Eight victims are still in Masindi Hospital and one is in Kiryandongo Hospital.

The Assistant Commissioner for Health Servivces, Dr Alex Opiyo, told The Monitor yesterday he had no information about Dr Lokwiya's health. Addressing a Press conference in Kampala, he said Masindi's 15 cases were all from the same family with Kenyan connections, in which the first four victims died.

Mbarara meanwhile has entered its fourth Ebola-free week. The disease, which causes bleeding before death, has claimed 147 people in the three districts it has affected.

Opio appealed to the public to remain vigilant and adhere to preventive measures.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), December 02, 2000


Ebola Fear Keep Tanzanians Guessing Panafrican News Agency

November 27, 2000

Nicodemus Odhiambo Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Tanzanian health officials are investigating at least seven suspected Ebola cases but questions remain on the level of safety needed to contain the epidemic should it break out within the country.

Porous borders and illegal movement between districts neighbouring Uganda where the disease has been reported to have claimed over 100 lives is rampant.

A ministry of health press statement of 20 November assured the public that "appropriate measures" were being put in place to deal with such an eventuality.

At least two medical experts have been deployed to each of the border regions that are considered highly vulnerable to the epidemic. The regions include Mwanza, Bukoba, Tanga, Arusha, Rukwa and Kigoma.

The team has been tasked with giving technical support to and assisting in sensitising medical personnel as well as members of the public on the highly contagious and fatal disease in a bid to preventing an unprecedented catastrophe.

The ministry said it would meanwhile deepen media campaigns to make the public aware of the disease, and citizens are being urged to report any suspect cases.

Two cases being monitored closely at the Muhimbili Medical Centre and at the privately owned Aga Khan Hospital in Dar es Salaam may be the outcome of the alert but major setbacks threaten to depress the exercise, a source told PANA.

It takes days before doctors, even relatives, know for sure that their patient has or has not contracted the deadly viral disease.

Blood samples have to be flown to South Africa for testing and there are not enough medical kits to suffice for a big number of specimens.

One of the patients, Ramadhani Omar, who is hospitalised at the Muhimbili, proved negative, the source said, but the blood sample of the other patient is yet to be flown to South Africa after over a week since admission.

Two other suspected cases were reported in Mwanza and Kagera to the north west of the country.

The patients died on 14 November and 17 November, respectively, but that was after they were confirmed "negative" for the deadly disease.

Another patient who was admitted at a rural district hospital in Bukoba along Lake Victoria on suspicion that he had contracted the disease has been discharged. He, too, tested negative for Ebola. He was apparently suffering from acute malaria, the ministry of health said.

Authorities in the lakeside town of Mwanza were therefore particularly uncompromising when a cargo vessel from Uganda recently entered the port with passengers on board.

Ordering the vessel back, the authorities maintained the passengers ought to have passed through legal channels where they would have been tested for the disease.

People can get Ebola haemorrhagic fever by direct contact with virus- infected blood, body fluids, saliva, urine or faeces, Mwanza regional commissioner Stephen Mashishanga said.

Information from the ministry of health is that there are therefore no cases of Ebola in Tanzania so far but citizens are not taking any chances.

Unconfirmed reports already point to low patient traffic to the hospitals where the suspected cases are being investigated and the public suspect the ministry may be withholding essential information that may point to the contrary.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), December 02, 2000.

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