Abuja, Nigeria – The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC) says it is aware of the ongoing outbreak of Ebola caused by the Sudan strain in Uganda, thereby issuing an alert to Nigerians.
On Tuesday, NCDC director-general Ifedayo Adetifa said in a statement that Uganda had, on September 20, declared the outbreak of the virus and that it was on an alert mode.
The Sudan strain of the Ebola virus is the known cause of Ebola, having caused previous outbreaks in Uganda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The Uganda Virus Research Institute confirmed the virus in samples collected from a 24-year-old male, who had exhibited symptoms of the disease and later died in Mubende District in the Central Region, about 175km from the capital, Kampala.
As of Saturday, the Ugandan Ministry of Health reported 54 cases (35 confirmed and 19 probable) and 25 deaths (seven confirmed and 18 probable).
“The Sudan Ebola Virus does not currently have an effective drug for treatment or licensed vaccine for prevention. The extent of the outbreak in Uganda has not yet been ascertained as investigations have shown that some persons may have died with similar symptoms which were not reported to health authorities,” stated the NCDC chief. “In addition, their burials were not conducted safely to prevent transmission. “The case fatality rate of the Sudan virus varied from 41 per cent to 100 per cent in past outbreaks.”
He warned that the likelihood of “importation to Nigeria is high, due to the increased air travel between Nigeria and Uganda, especially through Kenya’s Nairobi airport, a regional transport hub, and other neighbouring countries that shared a direct border with Uganda.”
Mr Adetifa also mentioned that the likelihood of spread in Nigeria following importation “is high due to the gatherings and travel associated with politics, the coming yuletide as well as other religious gatherings and festivals during the last few months of the year.”
He said despite the risk assessment, Nigeria could respond effectively in the event of an outbreak.
“This is exemplified by our successful response to the Ebola outbreak in 2014, as well as improvements in our capacity for health emergency response during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Adetifa explained. “We have the diagnostic capacity to test for the EVD presently at the National Reference Laboratory in Abuja and the Lagos University Teaching Hospital’s Centre for Human and Zoonotic Virology Laboratory.” (NAN)