KOBOKO. Residents of Koboko district have urged the government of Uganda to consider screening people across the border with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to avert possible spread of Ebola virus into the Country.
The appeal follows reports of Ebola outbreak in North Western part of DRC killing over 20 people with scores still hospitalized.
Ebola virus disease (EVD), also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) or simply Ebola, is a viral hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by ebola viruses.
The virus spreads through direct contact with body fluids, such as blood from infected human or other animals. Spread may also occur through contact with an item recently contaminated with bodily fluid.
But with the Ebola outbreak in DRC, locals in Koboko, one of Uganda’s North Western districts neighboring Congo are living in fear of possible spread of the disease to their area.
“I have heard of the Ebola outbreak in Congo and that is dangerous for us at the border. Government should not wait for any Ebola case to first be registered here before taking action. It is better if government starts screening people along our border with Congo right now,” Mr Twaha Mandela, a resident of Nyarilo Cell in Koboko Municipality said on Wednesday.
Twaha expressed worry over the continuous movement of people across the border especially for business trips which he said are likely to expose Koboko to Ebola.
Ms Zila Khemis, 50, a resident of Tanyaji village, Kuluba Sub County said by screening everybody at the border, people will have some confidence against Ebola.
She noted that at the moment, people are living in fear following Ebola reports in DRC where even some of their relatives live.
For Mr Isaac Todoko, a resident of Lipa Village, Mengo Ward in Koboko South Division, putting quarantine at the border with DRC is the best way of managing fear of spread of the disease to Uganda.
“By putting an Ebola emergence quarantine at the border, we shall be safe but if that is hard, government should restrict people from moving deep in DRC where the risk of contracting the disease is high and this should be done through continuous sensitization of the masses,” Todoko advised.
But when contacted, Mr Santos Kenyi, the Acting Koboko district health officer (DHO) ruled out the possibility of screening people at the border on grounds that the district has no Ebola screening gadgets and trained personnel for that purpose.
“First of all our border is too porous to establish Ebola screening points and on top of that, we have no equipment and trained staff to carry out the exercise,” Kenyi explained.
He said for the meantime, the district has formed an Ebola rapid response team comprising of health and district staff, religious and opinion leaders to continue monitoring the situation in the district and across the border.
He said the team has set Tuesday May 29, 2018 for a strategic meeting on how to start sensitizing people on Ebola, lobby partners and draw a budget for all activities surrounding the threat posed by the Hemorrhagic outbreak in DRC.
Dr Denis Oloya, the Koboko Hospital Medical Supretendant noted that they haven’t received any Ebola related case in the district for now though Congolese prefer coming to the facility for health services.
He said 5 percent of outpatient department (OPD) attendance at Koboko hospital is from DRC.
Ebola signs and symptoms typically start between two days and three weeks after contracting the virus with a fever, sore throat, muscular pain, and headaches.
Vomiting, diarrhea and rash usually follow, along with decreased function of the liver and kidneys. At this time, some people begin to bleed both internally and externally.
The disease has a high risk of death, killing between 25 and 90 percent of those infected, with an average of about 50 percent. This is often due to low blood pressure from fluid loss, and typically follows six to sixteen days after symptoms appear.
Spread of the disease through the air between primates, including humans, has not been documented in either laboratory or natural conditions. Semen or breast milk of a person after recovery from EVD may carry the virus for several weeks to months.
Fruit bats are believed to be the normal carrier in nature, able to spread the virus without being affected by it.