Scary times: “Avoid handshakes and promiscuous sex,” Ugandan president advises after Ebola kills 14

by Stanley Azuakola

The deadly Ebola virus has put the East African nation of Uganda on the edge. An outbreak of the virus killed 14 people last week and has put many more at risk.

Ebola isn’t your regular kind of virus. What makes it such a threat is that it can be transmitted once there’s close contact with an infected person and through body fluids such as saliva, vomit, faeces, sweat, semen, and blood. Worse still, Ebola has no cure.

President Yoweri Museveni, obviously worried by the threat posed by the virus has given some advice to his people. It consisted of things they should avoid: shaking hands, casual sex, and burying dead Ebola victims by themselves.

Such is the panic and fright sweeping through that country that patients and health workers in a rural Western Uganda district hospital fled the place because several cases of Ebola were being treated there.

Authorities are hoping that a behavioural change can help in curtailing the spread of the disease.

At the back of everyone’s mind is the tragedy of the year 2000 when an outbreak of the virus led to the infection of 425 people, over half of whom died.

Interestingly, the president said that this latest Ebola outbreak had many doctors fooled, because the symptoms were not consistent with that of the disease.

It is believed that the victims of Ebola remain contagious even when dead, hence the president’s advice that “In case somebody dies from what you suspect to be Ebola, please do not take on the job of burying him or her, call the medical workers to be the ones to do it because they are the ones that can do it safely.”

Thankfully, some hospital staff who had initially fled are now returning as they have been provided with protective gear.

Authorities in some local governments like Kibaale, which have a high risk of infection, have ordered the closure of local primary and secondary schools and banned public gatherings as a precautionary measure.

According to a report in the Mail Online,

The World Health Organisation has not yet confirmed the origin of this outbreak, but said that 18 of the 21 confirmed cases so far were understood to be linked to one family.

Ebola symptoms include the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, a headache, and a sore throat.

This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes, impaired kidney and liver functioning and both internal and external bleeding.

Depending on the strain, the virus kills up to 90 per cent of those who contact it.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Uganda.

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