Ebola in Uganda

By Nancy Steinbach

This is the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

International health workers are in Uganda to stop the spread of a disease caused by the Ebola virus. The disease is called Ebola hemorrhagic fever. About sixty people have died from the disease.

The Ebola virus is most common in central Africa. It causes bleeding inside the body. This blood may flow out through the nose, mouth or other body openings. Other signs of the disease are fever, headache, diarrhea and vomiting. No medicine or treatment now exists for the disease.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever kills its victims about ninety percent of the time. It kills so quickly that the body's defense system has no time to act against it. Most infected people die in five to seven days.

Ebola hemorraghic fever is spread through an infected victim's body liquids.

This is the first appearance of the disease in Uganda. It began in the northern town of Gulu, about two-hundred-sixty kilometers from the capital, Kampala. Officials are working to stop the spread of the disease.

Local officials have limited the movement of people in areas affected by the disease. They have closed schools. They also have banned funerals. That is to prevent the disease from spreading when dead bodies are cleaned for burial.

The World Health Organization has provided equipment to protect medical workers from becoming infected. Investigators from the United States Centers for Disease Control are in Uganda. They want to learn where the virus lives when it is not in the human body, and how it first infects people.

The Ugandan health ministry has said the disease in the Gulu area is not a threat to other parts of the country. World health officials have said the disease can be brought under control. But they will not be sure until no one in the area has suffered from the Ebola virus for forty-two days.

Ebola is named for a river in Congo near the village where the disease was discovered in Nineteen-Seventy-Six. The disease killed at least two-hundred-eighty people then. The virus killed one-hundred-seventeen others in Sudan at the same time. And it killed two-hundred-forty-four people in the Congolese city of Kikwit in Nineteen-Ninety-Five. It has also affected people in Ivory Coast and Gabon.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by Nancy Steinbach.

Voice of America Special English