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The BBC's Anna Borzello:
"Hospital staff have struggled to deal with the outbreak"
 real 28k

The BBC's Dan Isaacs
"Officials believe many more will die"
 real 56k

Sunday, 15 October, 2000, 09:29 GMT 10:29 UK
Ebola virus strikes Uganda
Uganda map
The outbreak centres on the northern town of Gulu
Ugandan health authorities are battling to contain an outbreak of the deadly ebola virus which has killed at least 31 people in the north of the country.

The highly contagious disease, which broke out in the district of Gulu, causes its victims to bleed to death.

A further 57 people are known to have contracted the disease but doctors fear that many in remoter villages may have died before they could get medical help.

Efforts to tackle the outbreak have been hampered by the lack of adequate medical facilities, and the effects of a rebel activity in the region.

The government and the World Health Organisation have sent fact-finding missions to Gulu to investigate the outbreak, but so far have given little practical help.

Symptoms of the mystery illness include fever, muscle pains and bleeding from the mouth, nose and anus.

Family members die

This is the first recorded Ebola outbreak in Uganda and medical officials say they do not yet know how the disease reached Gulu.

But there has been intense speculation in the local press that the virus could have been passed by Ugandan soldiers who have recently returned from postings in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Among the first victims was reported to be a soldier who had recently returned from such a post and died on 17 September.

Days later, a woman bled to death after giving birth in a Gulu hospital.

During the following weeks, seven of her family and friends who attended her burial service were also dead.

Doctors believe they could have contracted the disease after washing their hands in the same water at her funeral.

So far 10 people have died in hospital, including three nurses treating the sick.

Inadequate facilities

The other victims have succumbed in their villages before they could get to medical help.

New arrivals continue to arrive at Gulu's two hospitals with five more people admitted on Saturday alone. Hospital staff are struggling to deal with the outbreak, but lack basic necessities like adequate protective clothing.

The situation is made worse by the fact that Gulu is at the heart of a 12-year insurgency by rebels based in neighbouring Sudan.

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See also:

31 Jul 00 | Health
Breakthrough on Ebola
02 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
Ebola cure possible
07 May 99 | Health
Uganda on alert for Marburg virus
21 Jul 99 | Health
Killer fever 'under control'
06 May 99 | Health
Ebola ruled out in Congo fever
16 Aug 99 | Medical notes
Ebola and other tropical viruses
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