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Malaria, Ebola Co-infection Confused Us, Medics say as Gov’t Announces End of Outbreak

Experts at the forefront of the fight to halt the transmission of Ebola have said that the country would have lost fewer people if only they didn’t confuse the disease for malaria, at first.

Dr Henry Kyobe, who was the incident commander for the viral hemorrhagic fever that was first confirmed in September said that distinguishing malaria cases from Ebola was difficult to even experienced doctors as patients showed up with symptoms such as epigastric pain, joint pains and convulsions, usually associated with Malaria.

Dr Kyobe added that the earliest people to get infected were children and women who are also the most affected by malaria. Uganda lost 55 people to the disease which mostly affected the districts of Kassanda and Mubende.

Records show that among the 55 confirmed deaths that were recorded, 19 had malaria and ebola viral disease co-infection. Even among the 87 patients that recovered, a number also tested positive for malaria.

Health Minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng explained that the reason it was particularly challenging for them to determine is the fact that while there was a surge in malaria in many parts of the country, the malaria control programme surveillance teams were not listing Mubende and Kassanda districts among those affected by the upsurge.  

As a lesson, Kyobe says they should have given everyone mass treatment for malaria as prophylaxis. He says they shouldn’t have waited for people to get infected as the World Health Organization recommends this in situations of public health emergencies of such nature. 

In total Uganda has had 143 confirmed cases in this episode which is the seventh Ebola outbreak to be recorded in the country. 59 per cent of the sufferers were males while 58 (41 per cent) were females. By age, 26 (18 per cent) were children while 117 (82 per cent) were adults.

According to Kyobe, this outbreak was controlled in a record 69 days, although he notes that to date it’s still unclear where exactly the information could have come from noting that there are high chances that it was a spillover from the wild considering the fact that Madudu sub-county where the first case was picked has a lot of caves that are habitats for bats.

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