International experts begin training Ugandan health workers to tackle Ebola

publiziert: Donnerstag, 19. Okt 2000 / 11:06 Uhr

Gulu - Experts from the World Health Organization began training Ugandan health workers in how to treat Ebola victims Thursday, hoping to ensure their safety and guarantee the best care for those who have contracted the deadly and highly contagious virus that has so far killed 41 people and possibly infected 70 others.

At a 66-year-old government hospital, nurses and doctors watched videos and attended lectures conducted by Simon Mardel, a WHO expert on hemorraghic fevers. Gulu Hospital, a sprawling complex of beige concrete buildings with rusting tin roofs, has been treating 45 people who are suspected of having Ebola. The smell of disinfectant wafted across the hospital grounds as nurses dressed in surgical gear and heavy black rubber boots moved in and out of the Ebola ward. Anyone leaving the building was sprayed with bleach to kill the virus on their clothing.

Mardel arrived Wednesday with three other WHO experts, bringing the protective gear needed to keep doctors and nurses from contracting the disease. In the early days of the outbreak, one doctor and two nurses died after treating the first patients. "Our priority right now is barrier nursing, getting the hospital safe," said Dr. Michael Ryan, a WHO medical officer.

Teams from the U.S.-based Centers for Disease Control and French-based Doctors without Borders were also expected to arrive in Gulu later Thursday, bringing additional equipment and supplies to confirm the diagnosis of those admitted to the hospitals and to stem the spread of the disease in this town of about 150,000 people.

Ebola is spread through bodily contact with a victim who has developed symptoms of the disease or has died from it. About four days after contracting the virus, the victim develops a headache, fever and chest pains. In the later stages, the virus begins to attack internal organs, causing bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of Ebola victims die of the disease within two weeks of infection.

Researchers do not know what causes Ebola outbreaks, which are often years and hundreds of miles (kilometers) apart. The virus is believed to be carried by some animals and insects, which live with the virus. Ebola then makes the jump into an initial victim, who then spreads the disease in a community. Ebola usually kills its victims faster than it can spread, burning out before it can spread too far.

The outbreak in Gulu, 225 miles (362 kilometers) north of the capital, Kampala, marks the first time the disease has been found in Uganda. The virus is named after the Ebola river in Congo, where the first cases were recorded in 1976. It has also been recorded in Sudan, Ivory Coast and Gabon. The first Ebola victim in the Uganda outbreak, is believed to have died on Sept. 17. Esther Awete was found dead in her mud hut and since then her mother, three sisters and three other relatives have died.

(AP)

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