Ugandan health authorities on Tuesday reported that a man who died a day earlier had tested positive for the virus that causes Ebola.
They said it’s still unknown how the 24-year-old man became infected with the Sudan strain of Ebola, for which there is no approved vaccine. He lived in the central Ugandan district of Mubende, 150 kilometres (93 miles) west of the capital, Kampala.
“We are right now gathering more information on the possible source of infection,” said the ministry of health, which referred to a potential new outbreak because six other people in the same area — including three children — died earlier in September after suffering what local officials had called a strange illness.
The confirmed Ebola victim was initially treated for other illnesses, including malaria and pneumonia, when he sought care in his hometown, the statement said.
The World Health Organisation in a separate statement reported eight suspected Ebola patients who are getting care in this East African country of 45 million people.
“Uganda is no stranger to effective Ebola control. Thanks to its expertise, action has been taken to quickly to detect the virus and we can bank on this knowledge to halt the spread of infections,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organisation regional director for Africa.
WHO is helping Ugandan health authorities with investigations and is deploying staff to the affected area, it said.
Ebola, which is spread by contact with bodily fluids of an infected person or contaminated materials, manifests as a deadly hemorrhagic fever. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding.
Uganda has had multiple Ebola outbreaks, including one in 2000 that killed hundreds.
Last month authorities in Congo said a new case of Ebola in the eastern city of Beni was linked to a previous outbreak.
Congo’s 10th outbreak of Ebola in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri killed more than 2,000 people from 2018 to 2020. During that time, neighbouring Uganda reported some cases that authorities said were linked to the outbreak in Congo.
Ebola first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks in South Sudan and Congo, where it occurred in a village near the Ebola River after which the disease is named.