“It’s very important to react quickly” An emergency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) team is in Kagadi, in western Uganda’s Kibaale district, to help fight an outbreak of the Ebola virus. Other MSF teams in Uganda are closely monitoring the situation.

The Ebola outbreak, confirmed by the Ugandan government on July 28, has killed at least 14 people, while at least 20 more are believed to be infected.

The MSF team’s priorities are to identify and care for people who have been infected, as well as all those who have been in contact with them, and to ensure that emergency medical services are functioning. They will also work to identify how and where the virus is spreading, and to isolate people who are infected so as to limit the transmission of the disease.

“It’s very important to react quickly to find where the disease is focused and to isolate it as fast as possible,” says Olimpia de la Rosa, MSF’s emergency coordinator for ebola intervention in Uganda. “It is also essential to take care of the caregivers – which means supporting and working closely with the Ugandan health teams who are already struggling to stop the virus spreading.”

Ebola hemorrhagic fever spreads rapidly through direct contact with infected people or animals, and can be transmitted through blood, bodily fluids and even contact with clothes worn by an infected person. It is caused by a virus first identified in 1976 in Sudan’s Western Equatoria province and in Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo). Stringent infection control measures are crucial to limit the deadly spread of the virus.  

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