TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Globally, we’ve been dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic for years, since 2020. While cases are in flux and Americans are split on if COVID is really over, another virus may be in the mix. Before COVID, there was Ebola.
It was stopped, but new data and reports form health officials across the Atlantic show the deadly virus might be coming back. In Uganda, the Ministry of Health reported 11 new cases of the virus over two weeks, as of Oct. 16.
The ministry has issued a travel advisory, active as of Oct. 7. In it, they confirmed 44 cases and 10 deaths in Uganda’s Mubende District. Reporting in Wired Magazine estimates the caseload to be closer to 60.
Following Uganda’s confirmation of the outbreak, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated their data to provide details and other information on the current outbreak.
According to the CDC, the outbreak was confirmed after a patient was admitted to Mubende Regional Referral Hospital, “with a suspected viral hemorrhagic fever.” Once confirmed, an outbreak was declared. The CDC said this is the sixth recorded outbreak of the Ebola virus disease in Uganda since the 1970s.
“Rapid Response Teams were deployed to support outbreak response activities, including investigation of the unexplained deaths and contact tracing,” the CDC said. They are also “providing support in surveillance, epidemiology, laboratory, communication, and ecological investigations.”
Similar to multiple previous outbreaks, the CDC data states this version of Ebola is the Sudan species. Only one of the six outbreaks reported has not been. The World Health Organization had similar findings. Unlike other versions of the Ebola virus, the Sudan species is not able to be treated with vaccines.
“There are no licensed vaccines or therapeutics for the prevention and treatment of Sudan virus disease,” according to WHO. “In the absence of licensed vaccines and therapeutics for prevention and treatment of Sudan virus disease, the risk of potential serious public health impact is high.”
Continuing their analysis of the current outbreak, WHO said it was detected in “individuals living around an active local gold mine. Mobility among traders of this commodity is likely to be high, and the declaration of the outbreak may cause some miners already incubating the disease to flee. The currently affected Mubende district has no international borders.”
At this point, the outbreak is contained to a few specific regions in Uganda, and is being managed by multiple rapid response teams led by the Uganda Ministry of Health. The WHO reports the potential risk levels as low, regionally and globally.
“Nevertheless, the risk of international spread cannot be ruled out due to the active cross-border population movement,” WHO said. “In addition, investigations are ongoing to establish transmission chains and the scope of the outbreak is yet to be determined.”