Mr. Adeyanju stated that “because of the strategic position of Nigeria, such news should be treated with every sense of urgency and necessity as if it were a serious national issue.”
The health authorities in Uganda have declared an outbreak of Ebola after a case of the Sudan ebolavirus was confirmed in Mubende district in the central part of the country.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, said the Uganda Virus Research Institute confirmed the case after testing a sample from a 24-year-old male.
The patient with the confirmed case showed symptoms and later died.
Ms. Moeti said this follows an investigation by the National Rapid Response team of six suspicious deaths in the district this month. She noted that there are currently eight suspected cases who are receiving care in a health facility.
“This is the first time in more than a decade that Uganda is recording an outbreak of Sudan ebolavirus,” she said.
Ms Moeti said the WHO is working closely with the national health authorities to investigate the source of this outbreak while supporting the efforts to roll out effective control measures quickly.
“Uganda is no stranger to effective Ebola control. Thanks to its expertise, action has been taken to quickly detect the virus, and we can bank on this knowledge to halt the spread of infections,” she added.
Reacting to this development, the convener of Concerned Nigerians, Mr Deji Adeyanju, has admonished the federal government and the minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, not to relent or take for granted the disturbing news about the Ebola outbreak in Uganda.
Speaking shortly after a news briefing, Mr Adeyanju stated that “because of the strategic position of Nigeria, such news should be treated with every sense of urgency and necessity as if it were a serious national issue.”
He also commended the past leadership of President Goodluck Jonathan on how he proactively tackled the first Ebola outbreak in Nigeria in 2014.
“Currently, the country does not have the wherewithal to confront another epidemic, and this is enough reason why the federal government and the ministry of health should not treat this news lightly but sweep into action to ensure the masses are properly enlightened and our borders secured to detect any infected traveler that might come into the country.”
Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness affecting humans and other primates. It has six different species, three of which (Bundibugyo, Sudan, and Zaire) have previously caused large outbreaks.
Case fatality rates of the Sudan virus have varied from 41 percent to 100 percent in past outbreaks. Early initiation of supportive treatment has been shown to reduce deaths from Ebola significantly.
The index case of Ebola outbreak in Nigeria
The index case in Nigeria was a Liberian-American, Patrick Sawyer, who flew from Liberia to Nigeria’s most populous city of Lagos on 20 July 2014. Sawyer became violently ill upon arriving at the airport and died five days later. In response, the Nigerian government observed all of Sawyer’s contacts for signs of infection and increased surveillance at all entry points to the country.
Sawyer was believed to have suspected he was infected with Ebola because he cared for his sister, who died of the disease on July 8, he was hospitalized in Monrovia for fever and Ebola symptoms on July 17 before discharging himself (against professional medical advice) to fly to Lagos, where he lied to the staff of First Consultants Medical Centre that he had not had any exposure to anyone that had contracted Ebola.
Subsequent Transmission in Nigeria
On 6 August 2014, the Nigerian health minister told reporters, “Yesterday the first known Nigerian to die of Ebola was recorded. This was one of the nurses that attended to the Liberian. The other five newly confirmed cases are treated at an isolation ward.” The nurse was Obi Justina Ejelonu.
The doctor who treated Sawyer, Ameyo Adadevoh, also died of Ebola.
Others that died included Mrs Ukoh (a Ward Maid at First Consultants Medical Center), Jato Asihu Abdulqudir (an acquaintance of Sawyer, who was on the plane with him and carried his bag when he was ill), a private hospital doctor in Port Harcourt who was treating Jato and an elderly patient at the hospital that treated the personal hospital doctor for Ebola.
On 22 September 2014, the Nigeria health ministry announced, “As of today, there is no case of Ebola in Nigeria. All listed contacts under surveillance have been followed up for 21 days.” According to the WHO, 20 cases and 8 deaths had been confirmed, including the imported case, who also died. Four of the dead were health care workers who had cared for Sawyer. In all, 529 contacts had been followed and of that date they had all completed a 21-day mandatory period of surveillance.
Ebola outbreak successfully contained in Nigeria
On 9 October 2014, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) acknowledged Nigeria’s positive role in controlling the effort to contain the Ebola outbreak. “We wish to thank the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, Nigeria, and the staff of the Ebola Emergency Centre who coordinated the management of cases, containment of outbreaks, and treatment protocols in Nigeria.” Nigeria’s quick responses, including intense and rapid contact tracing, surveillance of potential contacts, and isolation of all contacts, were of particular importance in controlling and limiting the outbreak, according to the ECDC (Fasina, 2014). Complimenting Nigeria’s successful efforts to control the outbreak, “the usually measured WHO declared the feat ‘a piece of world-class epidemiological detective work (Courage, 2014).”
The WHO’s representative in Nigeria officially declared Nigeria to be Ebola-free on 20 October after no new active cases were reported in the follow-up contacts, stating it was a “spectacular success story (Vanguard, 2014).
Uganda ebola outbreak records
Uganda last reported an outbreak of Sudan ebolavirus in 2012. At least 17 people were killed from the 24 cases identified in that outbreak, according to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, which contributed to containing the virus in the east African country at the time.
The country has experienced four Ebola outbreaks, according to the WHO, with the most deadly witnessed in 2000 which left over 200 people dead.
Uganda borders the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) which is experiencing an Ebola resurgence following outbreaks this year.
Uganda’s last outbreak was in 2019 when it confirmed the Zaire Ebola strain, which led to the death of a nine-year-old Congolese girl near the border with the DRC.
On the recent outbreak, the WHO said it is helping Ugandan health authorities with the investigation and is deploying staff to the affected area.
Ms Moeti said the organisation has dispatched supplies to support the care of patients and is sending a tent that will be used to isolate patients.
She said the ring vaccination of high-risk people with Ervebo (rVSV-ZEBOV) vaccine has been highly effective in controlling the spread of Ebola in recent outbreaks in the DRC and other countries.
She, however, lamented that this vaccine has only been approved to protect against the Zaire virus.
“Another vaccine produced by Johnson and Johnson may be effective but has yet to be specifically tested against Ebola Sudan,” she said.
Courage, K. H. (2014). “How Did Nigeria Quash Its Ebola Outbreak So Quickly?”. Scientific American.
Fasina, F. O., Shittu, A., et al. (2014). “Transmission Dynamics and Control of Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in Nigeria, July to September 2014”. Rapid Communications. Eurosurveillance. 19 (40): 20920. doi:10.2807/1560-
Vanguard News. (2014). “Free at last: The Nigeria Ebola story”. https://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/10/free-last-nigeria-ebola-story/