Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Uganda: Unidentified Hemorrhagic Outbreak





In December of 2007 I wrote several blogs about an Ebola outbreak in Bundibugyo, located in western Uganda.  


A brief excerpt from one of those posts follows:


Ugandan Nightmare


# 1328

The picture above gives a pretty good indication of how the Ebola virus is spreading in Uganda. Notice the lack of gloves on the attendant's hands, the lack of goggles, and the use of only a simple surgical mask.


Disposables, like gloves, are in very short supply even in the hospitals, and this has led to the deaths of 5 health care workers.


(Continue . . . )


We didn’t realize it at the time, but what they were seeing was a new – previously unidentified strain – of ebola.   A strain which would eventually be named Bundibugyo ebolavirus after its place of discovery.


While less deadly (34% Case Fatality Rate) than other strains of ebola (excluding Ebola Reston), the emergence of this new strain was a sober reminder that a year rarely passes when we don’t discover a new zoonotic disease capable of jumping to humans.


A year later (2008) doctors in Zambia and South Africa ran across a mysterious, previously unclassified virus that caused hemorrhagic symptoms in its victims similar to Ebola.


It appeared to be highly contagious, and was fatal in 4 of the 5 identified victims.    Like most other infectious disease bloggers, I covered the story a bit, although the amount of information available then was pretty thin.


WHO Update On South African `Mystery Disease'

South African `Mystery Virus' Identified


On October 13th, 2008 the virus was tentatively identified as a new arenavirus, but since that time more exacting studies have been done.   In 2009, this virus was named the Lujo Virus, and detailed in the PloS Pathogens report.


Genetic Detection and Characterization of Lujo Virus, a New Hemorrhagic Fever–Associated Arenavirus from Southern Africa



Today, again from western Uganda, we are seeing reports of a new hemorrhagic disease outbreak – cause unknown – that has reportedly killed 13 people so far.


This report courtesy of Shiloh on FluTrackers, indicates that preliminary testing by the Uganda Virus Research Institute has ruled out Ebola, Marburg, and Lassa.  Samples have been sent to the CDC in Atlanta for analysis.



13 dead, as strange disease spreads

Monday, 15th November, 2010


By David Labeja and Sam Oboke
THIRTEEN people have been reported dead in Abim and Agago districts, following an outbreak of a strange disease in Abim.


Twenty cases have been reported in Abim district, out of whom eight have already died.


In neighouring Agago district, five cases have been reported in the sub counties of Omiya P’Chua and Paimol, which border Abim district.

(Continue . . . )


Additional reports will most certainly be posted on this FluTrackers Thread.


Hemorrhagic viruses, while horrific, are usually self-limiting and generally only pose a threat to the area where they emerge. 


Most are believed initially contracted by eating (or preparing) bush meat, and are subsequently spread via bodily fluids.


Health care workers – particularly in areas where personal protective equipment is unavailable – are at particularly high risk of contracting the illness.


When we know more about this particular outbreak, I’ll update this story.