UGANDA AND ITS FIGHT WITH EBOLA SUDAN
“We must act now to prevent further spread of EBOLA VIRUS. If we do not act collectively, EBOLA VIRUS will wipe all whole populations and generations into their grave. The call to action is now.”
― Lailah Gifty Akita
There are numerous articles that I wrote about Ebola virus but each time I do research about this microbe, I feel some kind of dual feelings, admiration and fear at the same time. Ebola is, with no doubt, the most dangerous virus in the world, in spite of much competition in all area of microorganisms. You will never find such a perfect model of epidemiological war, that is capable to kill thousand of people, with no mercy. This virus learnt, long time ago, that Homo sapiens is running under error mood and that small crack in DNA is enough to be among humans, to be spread like the grudge from nature itself.
This filovorus knows how to play chess with modern world. It is some kind of intelligent hide and seek, from the rain forests to the urban zones, Ebola virus is transforming and accept the new challenges from the medicine. When we think that outbreak is over, it is jumping again and from the zero patient, we get the infected mass that is dying. The pharmacology is trying to offer the solution, from experimental drugs to the new age vaccines but Ebola doesn’t care if Inmazeb or Ebanga are in circulation, it has its own way, the brutal modus operandi. It always come back, stronger and prouder than it ever was.
Since the first outbreak in 1976, there have been many of them all around the sub-Saharan countries ( West, East and Central African region) but the most fatal has been one from 2014-2016, with 11000 people that passed away ( African Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone). The second fatal outbreak was in Democratic Republic of Congo, in the period from 2018-2020, with loss of 2000 people. Just two years later, the Ebola is waking up in Uganda, after the whole Corona madness, year 2022 seems like surreal. The lands that have never really conquered the Corona virus are risking to get Ebola on the board and the world is more than concerned. But, what is really ongoing in Uganda ?
On September 25th, 2022, Uganda is reporting the cases of Ebola virus Sudan variant. What is even more intresting is the fact that is the first outbreak since 2012 with Sudan type of Ebola virus, that is not covered by available vaccine protection, that usually works somehow for Zaire strain. This time, Ebola virus with strain from Sudan reached 5 district in Uganda, causing pain and death. How serious is this outbreak and could be spread on the rest of neighbouring countries that are still dealing with Covid ?
Let’s say that Uganda has already experiences with Ebola. They are old acquittances in the dark times and virus has already made a mess, in the past few epidemics. The Sudan profile of Ebola virus is not so common and when it is on the rise, it comes with black numbers. The main problem in African countries is the lack of community KNOW and HOW about the origin of the viruses and how slow/fast they could jump into the human blood. It is not to underestimate the behaviour of people and closeness, especially in the time of infection. During epidemics of highly contagious disease, it is more than important to keep in mind lessons learned from the previous fatal outbreaks, when the virus has been spread without any awareness. Of course, not to mention the deforestation, so many animals lose constantly their natural habitat and come to the people units, bringing new and emerging zoonosis. Nobody really knows where the Ebola virus is coming from. It is just assumption but not a fact of science. It might come from bats and over bushmeat, transferred to people. One day it was just one zero patient, the next day, thousand of multiplied patients. The tricky about this invisible queen of the viruses is that it could linger silently in persons body for months or even years. The science is still working hard on this issue because it is pretty much thrilling the update that some people develop Ebola virus asymptomatic but they are capable to transmit Ebola on the next person. That is is the new rocket science in the virus area. What is Ebola doing or could it be possible that the virus is hiding in the person and spontaneously sometime, somewhere, activate the new outbreak? There are some studies that are going in such a direction:“Thousands of men who are infected have survived, but until recently scientists did not know that the Ebola virus could be transmitted in semen beyond three months, says Mary Choi, an epidemiologist at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency and the Liberian government are running the largest-ever investigation of Ebola viruses in the semen of survivors. So far, the team’s study of 466 men has detected virus fragments in semen up to 18 months after a man has recovered from his infection. Choi says that the virus probably lasts for longer than 18 months in semen.”
The Uganda case study of Ebola is not the only one. However, Uganda health officials are doing their best to suppress the virus epidemics. The good thing is that they now have the mobile laboratory in the core of epidemics, Mubende, so they do not need to send samples to the Institute and wait for days, but just in 6 hours, they know if the virus is there or not. The next step is keeping virus inside the control territory, providing Ebola kits on the local borders. If the virus is outside and spread on the another lands, we will risk to have African epidemics again, with threat to the world outside of Africa. We all know how fast the virus could be.
The rise of vaccine must be faster than the rise of the dangerous strain of virus. According to the writing, there are currently six candidates in the biotechnological pipeline. The single-dose vaccine from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases ( NIAID) is on the first place with the best chances to get approval. It shows awesome performance in keeping protection against Sudan species in non-human primates. If Uganda officials accept it, it might be shipped soon 100 doses for health personnel.
This is not the new scenario to the human race. Dealing with viruses is the part of our survival story. More or less. Sometimes we are great in the battle, sometimes we are losing the concept and goal. The most important lesson learned should be the change of our habits and our behaviour in the relation with Nature and Animals. We should stop acting like parasites and start acting like responsible guardians. Maybe then and only maybe then, viruses will stop jumping from dark rain forests into the big villages of people ignorance and go back minding their own invisible business.