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Will WHO need military support in Uganda?

Will WHO need military support in Uganda?The World Health Organization is in Uganda trying to help those infected with the Ebola virus.  Ebola is known as one of the deadliest diseases we have in the world.  An outbreak can spread quickly if it is not contained.  It can spread even further than its own country easily, by one infected individual hopping on a plane before they realize they are sick.  Uganda announced six more patients were admitted to the hospital.  The announcement came just days after investigators confirmed it was Ebola.  It is currently affecting only a remote area in the western corner of Uganda, according to health officials and the WHO (World Health Organization).

At first reports of Ebola were in just one village, but reports are coming in that several villages in the area are affected.  The Uganda president addressed the nation on Monday, advising against unnecessary contact.  He also mentioned that it is imperative for anyone who suspects they are sick with the disease to contact health officials immediately.  About 20 individuals have been affected that officials know about, and 14 of these have died.  Why the outbreak occurred and how it is being spread are important factors.  Ebola can be transmitted with contact, but some strains have been known to transfer through air.  It means they are an airborne contagion.  At this point health officials have not stated that this particular strain is airborne.  The WHO and other health officials are looking for answers to help avert any panic that might occur in Uganda.

Those who have perished from the disease include a four-month-old child and a clinical officer.  Ebola is considered a hemorrhagic fever.  It will kill quickly, especially if proper care is not given.  In 1976, when the disease was first reported in the Congo, it killed hundreds.

Ebola symptoms include fever, joint and muscle aches, headache, weakness, sore throat, diarrhea, stomach pain and vomiting.  A rash, red eyes, hiccups, and internal and external bleeding can also occur.  Unfortunately this is not the first time Uganda has seen an outbreak of this disease.  In 2000 the virus killed 224 people and left several hundred traumatized.  About 42 people died in a 2007 outbreak.  In 2011, one case of Ebola was reported.  Government response has been slow, taking more than a month to confirm Ebola was the cause.  The situation could have been much worse had the WHO and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not been involved.

There is little worry that the US military will need to make a move.  No US military move has been required to shut down airports or other travel in Uganda because of the disease.  It may be lack of quick transportation in the area.  These are remote villages where modern conveniences like vehicles are few and far between.  Most people stay in their village or travel to closer villages.  It is, in a way, good news that no military move will be needed, as it means the issue can be largely contained.  The moves in Uganda will be left up to the national authority and the WHO.

Jon Huser

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