Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Ebola and Dr Matthew

"Be on ebola elert, limit no. of handshakes. Wash hands with jik* after mixing with public"

* Industrial strength bleach

This text message, received from a Ugandan friend this morning, sums up the fear that Ebola strikes here after 173 people died in a serious outbreak in 2000. The virus causes hemorrhagic fever and has in the past had very low survival rates once contracted. This time 19 people are confirmed dead and many more infected, mainly in the Western parts of the country near the Congolese border, from where the outbreak is thought to have come. However, this strain is thought to be less deadly. Perversely this may mean the disease spreads more widely, as normally it is thought to kill victims faster than it can spread to new ones. One nurse has caught the disease, sparking memories of modern-day Ugandan hero, Dr. Matthew Lukwiya, who died from Ebola in the process of putting an end to the last bout of cases. James Astill writes about his life in the Observer here:


If you have a spare ten minutes it is an incredible story of commitment and service to his people. The lessons learnt from his actions will undoubtedly save lives this time round.

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