Infectious Disease

Officials weigh vaccine options as death toll rises in Ugandan Ebola outbreak

September 26, 2022

2 min read

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Officials have begun assessing Sudan ebolavirus vaccine candidates as case and death counts continue to rise in the ongoing Ebola outbreak in Uganda that has now spread to two more districts in the country.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health in Uganda reported 36 cumulative cases — 18 confirmed and 18 probable — and 23 deaths, although only five are confirmed to be from Ebola. The Ministry reported on Sunday that of the cases recorded at the time, three were reported in Kyegegwa and one in Kassanda.

IDN0922Ebola_Uganda_Update_Graphic_01_WEB

WHO previously said in a press release that it planned to deploy staff to the area, dispatch supplies for patients and send a tent to be used for patient isolation. To date, no vaccination strategies have been implemented because no Ebola vaccine has been proven effective against Sudan ebolavirus.

According to WHO, however, there are at least six vaccine candidates for this strain — three of which have phase 1 data available, whereas the rest remain in the preclinical evaluation phase. WHO’s Research and Development Blueprint team is working with the vaccine candidate developers to determine which of the vaccines may be suitable for additional evaluation during this outbreak. Officials plan to discuss the proposed next steps with Ugandan authorities to seek approval if necessary and if cases continue to rise.

A ProMED release posted Friday suggested that the virus could be spreading in a refugee camp after Emmanuel Paul Batibwa, director of the Mubende Regional Referral hospital, said that four contacts of one patient who died in the Kyaka refugee settlement have been sent to Mubende hospital for screening. Their samples have also been sent to the Uganda Virus Research Institute.

According to the update, five additional patients from Kyaka II resettlement camp were reported and three people were reported dead in Kirwanyi village. Surveillance teams have been dispatched to establish the cause of death.

This is the first outbreak of Sudan ebolavirus reported since 2012. The outbreak was declared when health officials began investigating six “suspicious” deaths in the Mubende district. One sample collected from a 24-year-old man tested positive for the virus. The man died shortly after. At the time, there were eight other suspected cases being treated and monitored, WHO reported, but those numbers have since grown.

Ministry of Health Uganda

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