Fear of Ebola in Luwero, central Uganda stopped World AIDS Day celebrations

Central Uganda: The Luwero district HIV and AIDS focal person has clarified that the district did not commemorate this year’s World AIDS Day for fear of Ebola.

Central Uganda: The Luwero district HIV and AIDS focal person Dr. Edward Mbidde Kalyesubula has clarified that the district did not commemorate this year’s World AIDS Day for fear of Ebola.

“For us as a district the fear and scare of Ebola was too much and it prevented us from going on with the celebrations. We had made all the necessary preparations and we in Luwero, like other districts and parts of the world, were looking forward to World AIDS Day. But the scare and the fact that we did not want large gatherings to [risk being] infected with Ebola, we decided to let the day pass without any activity.”

On a more positive note, Mr. Mbidde noted that the count down to being declared Ebola-free has already started in Luwero district.

“If no new cases area reported and the people under quarantine are not found with the Ebola virus by January 16, 2013, Luweo district and Uganda as a whole will be declared Ebola free,” he said.

The Ebola outbreak in Luwero is the fourth Ebola outbreak in Uganda in twelve years and killed 156 people (a mortality rate of 42%), including one doctor Dr. Lukwiya. This is the first time that Ebola has hit Uganda twice in the same year. The earlier outbreak of Ebola happened in June and July and also killed several people.

History of Ebola in Uganda

The first time Ebola hit Uganda was in 2000. Dr Lukwiya says he had received a phone call from an assistant informing him that a mysterious illness had killed two of the hospital’s student nurses who had begun bleeding or vomiting blood. Dr Lukwiya himself then witnessed the death of a third nursing student in Lacor. At the time there was virtually no knowledge in Uganda on the management of Ebola.

In 2007, the Uganda Ministry of Health again confirmed an outbreak of Ebola in the Bundibugyo district. After confirmation of samples tested by the United States National Reference Laboratories and the Centre for Disease Control, the World Health Organisation confirmed the presence of the new species. Fortunately in early 2008, the Uganda Ministry officially announced the end of the epidemic in Bundibugyo, with the last infected person discharged about January 2008. This particular outbreak killed 39 (a mortality rate of 34%).

Unfortunately, most Ebola outbreaks hit areas with the most dilapidated health facilities and away from the central health districts.

 

 

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