Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Hot Zone: Ebola Virus Outbreak Terrifies Uganda

The deadly, highly contagious Ebola virus has killed at least 14 people in one of the worst outbreaks of the disease in recent years, officials with the Uganda Health Department have revealed.

World Health Organization members held a press conference in the Ugandan capital of Kampala to warn the press of the deadly outbreak of the dreaded virus on Saturday. Speculation about the cause of the outbreak has caused thousands of citizens to flee their homes in fear.

"Laboratory investigations done at the Uganda Virus Research Institute...have confirmed that the strange disease reported in Kibaale is indeed Ebola hemorrhagic fever," the Ugandan government and WHO said in joint statement during the conference.

Local health officials have reported that 14 people have died so far from the disease—including a four-month-old baby— with a total of twenty people diagnosed with the killer virus. Government agencies appealed to the public for calm during the crisis, saying a national task force had been convened to prevent the disease from spreading to other regions of the country.

In 2000, an outbreak of the virus claimed the lives of over two hundred people and traumatized much of the country. Ebola, which manifests itself as a deadly hemorrhagic fever, is highly infectious and kills very quickly. It was first reported in 1976 in Congo and is named for the river where it was recognized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

 Richard Preston's bestselling non-fiction book, The Hot Zone, told the story of the origins of the horrifying disease and how it could possibly decimate human populations should an outbreak take place.

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