Ebola outbreak now at 105 cases, and bordering countries are on alert

Saturday, August 25, 2018
By Paul Martin

By Lena H. Sun
August 24, 2018

MPONDWE, Uganda — On Tuesdays and Fridays, an estimated 19,000 people stream down the hill from Congo’s North Kivu province to cross the border into this small town, many of them headed to a sprawling open-air market.

In recent weeks, crossing the border has become more difficult as Ugandan health authorities have beefed up precautions against the spread of the Ebola virus. An outbreak centered in North Kivu is responsible for 105 confirmed or suspected cases, including 67 deaths, according to Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who has just returned from the area.

Uganda is determined to keep the deadly hemorrhagic fever from spreading to its side of the border. Before travelers are allowed through, they must step in small tubs of chlorinated water to disinfect their shoes, and their temperatures are taken with no-touch thermometer guns aimed at their temples.

Uganda moved quickly, imposing the precautions a week after the latest outbreak was declared Aug. 1. It has found six suspected cases at this crossing, but laboratory tests cleared them all.

“So far, we have not gotten any case of Ebola,” Ithungu Honorata, a nurse who oversees the screening effort, said Friday. “But we don’t want it to come to Uganda.”

The latest Ebola outbreak, Congo’s 10th, was declared just a week after a smaller one was quelled in another part of the country. It comes four years after the Ebola epidemic in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea killed more than 11,000 people, sickened more than 28,000 and sparked panic about travel in other parts of the world, including the United States.

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