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03 Aug 2012

In response to the ongoing outbreak of Ebola fever in Uganda with 38 persons infected and 16 deaths, ECDC assesses the risk for travellers returning to EU and EU citizens residing in the country.

The risk of residents and returning travellers becoming infected or developing the disease is extremely low, unless there has been a direct contact with blood, bodily fluids of dead or living infected persons or animals. As a precautionary measure, EU citizens in Uganda should avoid such contact. Travellers returning from tropical countries should always seek rapid medical attention if they develop flu-like symptoms (such as fever, headache or general malaise) within three weeks after return; isolation and active monitoring of contacts is recommended for such patients.

The emergence of an Ebola fever outbreak in Uganda is not unexpected, states the risk assessment, as there have been two Ebola outbreaks in the past, in 2000-2001 and 2007-2008. It is probable that additional cases will be identified in the coming weeks, due to the incubation period of the disease and the active case-finding in place. However, control measures, such as isolation of cases and active monitoring of contacts, are currently implemented in Uganda, with the support of international partners, and these should prevent further spread of the disease.

Ebola haemorrhagic fever is a rare disease, but has the potential of causing high mortality rates. Transmission of the Ebola virus occurs through direct contact with blood or bodily fluids of dead or living infected persons; it can also be transmitted by contact with dead or living infected animals. Clinical illness has an incubation period of three weeks, it starts as a flu-like syndrome, rapidly evolving to severe disease with bleedings. Mortality rate for sick individuals is estimated to be between 50% and 90%. No treatment or vaccine is available for the disease.

 ECDC risk assessment: Outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Uganda

Read more on ECDC website:

Ebola and Marburg fevers
Emerging and Vector-borne Diseases Programme
ECDC. Risk assessment guidelines for diseases transmitted on aircraft (RAGUIDA), part 2  

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