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Ebola Outbreak Kills At Least 14 In Uganda

Although infections with the Ebola virus are rare, they can be deadly.
Cynthia Goldsmith
Although infections with the Ebola virus are rare, they can be deadly.

An outbreak of the Ebola virus has emerged in western Uganda.

Twenty cases were reported by the World Health Organization yesterday. At least 14 people have died. The number of Ebola infections is expected to rise in the next few days, as more patients are admitted to hospitals.

The outbreak began in a rural district of Uganda about 125 miles west of the Uganda capital, Kampala.

WHO and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have dispatched teams to the region to investigate and help contain the outbreak. Physicians from Doctors Without Borders are also helping to set up quarantine centers.

The Wall Street Journal reports one infected person was transferred to a hospital in Kamapala, raising fears that the virus has spread to the capital city.

But the WHO said today on its Twitter account, "No infections occurred in Kampala."

CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told CNN yesterday that "these outbreaks have a tendency to stamp themselves out, if you will, if we can get in and...stop the chain of transmission."

Nevertheless, in a state broadcast this morning, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni urged people to avoid touching each other, the BBC reports. Ebola spreads by direct contact with bodily fluids, such as saliva and blood.

Uganda has suffered through three major outbreaks of Ebola in the past 12 years, including one that claimed 224 lives in 2000.

Ebola, which is named after a small river in central Africa, is a deadly virus that causes sudden fever, muscle weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, and kidney problems.

The death rate from Ebola depends on the specific strain of the virus, but it has ranged between about 30 to 50 percent in Uganda. There is no cure or vaccine for Ebola.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Michaeleen Doucleff is a reporter for NPR's Science Desk. She reports for the radio and the Web for NPR's global health and development blog, Goats and Soda. Doucleff focuses on disease outbreaks, drug development, and trends in global health.
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