According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the outbreak was caused by a version of the virus that originated in Sudan and has now reached Uganda’s capital of Kampala. The country has so far seen roughly 130 confirmed cases and thirty-seven deaths.
The shipments of the vaccine doses—which are from Oxford University, Sabin Vaccine Institute, and Merck—are part of a large-scale coordinated effort between the Ugandan government, the CDC, and the World Health Organization (WHO).
“We are committed to continuing working with the Government of Uganda through the Ministry of Health to ensure that the Ebola outbreak is contained,” Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the WHO representative to Uganda, said in a release.
“WHO is supporting all response pillars including case management to make sure that all cases are managed properly,” he continued.
As reported by the Associated Press, Uganda has endured multiple Ebola outbreaks over the past two decades, including one in 2000 that killed more than 200 people. An Ebola outbreak in West Africa between 2014 and 2016 took the lives of more than 11,000 people, the disease’s largest death toll ever.
Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness usually causing fever, fatigue, and muscle pain at the start. Victims then suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and in some cases, internal and external bleeding.
The virus boasts a high mortality rate of about 50 percent—with the percentage sometimes even hitting 90 percent in past outbreaks—but the disease is known to be relatively more difficult to transmit to others as it does not spread through airborne transmission.
People can catch the virus through direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person who has fallen ill or died from the disease. It can also spread through contact with contaminated materials and infected animals.
Ebola was first discovered in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks in South Sudan and Congo, where they occurred in a village near the Ebola River, after which the disease is named. Since then, outbreaks have appeared sporadically in Africa.
The natural reservoir host of the Ebola virus remains unknown, but scientists suspect the first victim in an Ebola outbreak gets infected via contact with an infected animal or from eating its raw meat.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.