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Tuesday, 14 November, 2000, 14:07 GMT
Kenya alerted over Ebola
A nurse assists an Ebola victim at a hospital in Gulu
A total of 110 people have died since Ebola hit Uganda
By Anna Borzello in Kampala

The Kenyan authorities have been alerted after it was discovered that seven of their nationals attended the funeral of a woman suffering from the often deadly Ebola virus late last month.

Ebola, which can cause its victims to bleed to death, is spread through contact with infected bodily fluids.

Traditional burial rites are one of the principal means of transmission.

Ebola broke out in Uganda in mid-September and so far 329 people are known to have contracted the disease, out of which 110 have died.

Masindi worry

Until this week, attention had been concentrated on the northern Ugandan district of Gulu, apart from four cases which were found in the western Ugandan town of Mbarara.

A health worker
Health workers are battling to contain the virus
But on Monday the Health Ministry announced Ebola had been found in Masindi District in northern Uganda marking a further spread of the disease.

Dr Francis Omaswa, Uganda's Director-General of Health Services, told the BBC that he had spoken to his Kenyan counterpart, who had already located the suspects and were tracing them to find out whether or not they had contracted the disease.

A team of experts from the northern Ugandan town of Gulu, which has been at the centre of the Ebola epidemic, will travel to Kenya on Wednesday to give advice on dealing with a possible outbreak.

Kenyan victim

A ministry team who visited Masindi established that the first victim was a woman of Kenyan origin who contracted Ebola from an infected nurse while in hospital in Gulu.

She returned to her village, where she later died and was given a traditional burial.

Three of her relatives have also since died of Ebola and 150 people who attended their funerals are now under surveillance by health officials.

Despite this ominous-sounding development, the Ugandan authorities remain confident that the Ebola epidemic is coming under control.

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See also:

31 Jul 00 | Health
Breakthrough on Ebola
02 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
Ebola cure possible
16 Aug 99 | Medical notes
Ebola and other tropical viruses
18 Oct 00 | Health
Africa's emerging virus threat
20 Oct 00 | Africa
In pictures: When Ebola struck
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