A team of medical experts from Dar es Salaam was yesterday dispatched to Kagera region to further examine the two patients believed to be suffering from the Ebola hemorrhagic fever.
But as the team of medical experts was sent to Kagera region, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare subsequently confirmed the outbreak of the deadly fever in the western part of the country. Confirming the reports, the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Seif Seleman Rashid, also said that a team of medical experts was still diagnosing a patient in efforts to establish the symptoms.
In the meantime, reports from Nyakahanga designated hospital in Karagwe district, Kagera region indicate that there were two patients including a child, suspected to be suffering from the deadly fever that has rocked neighbouring Uganda.
According to one of the doctors who diagnosed the patient at Karagwe’s Nyakahanga hospital, preliminary findings show that the victim might have contacted the Ebola virus.
However, the doctor who requested anonymity told the Guardian on Sunday that ‘further medical examination’ would be conducted to gather more evidence about the possible outbreak of Ebola, adding that the patient had since been quarantined pending final results.
According to the doctor, the ‘Ebola patient’ was brought to the hospital on Friday morning and, upon diagnosis, it was established that the patient had suffered from Ebola. The patient who is a six-year-old child was brought to the Mulongo hospital by his mother from a village close to the Uganda-Tanzania boarder after the child developed severe symptoms.
“We are doing further medical examination on a patient … we will tell the general public once it is confirmed that we are dealing with Ebola virus infections,” the doctor said, adding that currently the patient alleged to have been infected was admitted in a separate room and now lives in isolation from other patients at the hospital.
He said preliminary check-ups found out that the diagnosis had all signs showed clear symptoms of Ebola – after which he ordered the patient to be admitted for closer monitoring locally, and further medical examination by medical experts from the ministry headquarters.
He added that the patient had since been placed in a special intensive care room which is out of bounds for all other people -- apart from his mother who is taking care of the patient. However, he said, this was a medical rule aimed at avoiding quick spread of the deadly disease
Another patient also believed to have crossed the boarder from Uganda was admitted at the hospital as well, but medical investigations of his deteriorating health conditions were still not completed by Saturday evening.
As a precaution, the doctor said his hospital team and the district health workers had since started warning people in surrounding villages to take immediate measures whenever they come across such patients. He has also warned the people living closer to the border with Uganda to be careful not to come into contact with any person whom they see vomiting or bleeding – clear signs of someone suffering from Ebola.
On Wednesday this week, Dr. Mwinyi told visibly alarmed legislators in Dodoma that a team of medical experts had been dispatched to the border with Uganda, fully equipped with protective gear and medical supplies.
The minister advised the general public especially those living in the northern regions of Kagera, Mara, Mwanza and Kigoma -- some of which share the border crossings with Uganda -- to take precautions because the disease was highly contagious.
Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) had alerted Tanzania on the Ebola threat, prompting the ministry to issue a press statement elaborating that Ebola
(Ebola HF) was a severe, often-fatal disease in humans and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees) that has appeared sporadically since its initial recognition in 1976.
The disease is caused by infection with Ebola virus, named after a river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire), where it was first recognized.
The virus is one of two members of a family of RNA viruses called the Filoviridae; there are five identified subtypes of the Ebola virus -- four of which have been known to cause disease in humans: Ebola-Zaire, Ebola-Sudan, Ebola-Ivory Coast and Ebola-Bundibugyo. The fifth, Ebola-Reston, has caused disease in nonhuman primates, but not in humans.