KAMPALA, Uganda — An outbreak of the rare and deadly Ebola virus has killed 14 people in midwestern Uganda, many in the past week, the Ugandan government said Saturday.
A team of health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and the Ugandan government has been sent to the area, roughly three hours from Uganda’s capital, Kampala, to begin emergency response measures, according to a government statement.
The strain of the virus, which in recent years has killed at a rate often above 70 percent of those infected, has been identified as Ebola Sudan, one of the virus’s more common strains.
Ebola manifests itself as a hemorrhagic fever. In 2000, an outbreak killed 224 people in Uganda. The virus was first reported in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo and is named for the river where it was recognized, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or C.D.C.
A “strange disease” was first reported in the area several weeks ago, according to the government’s statement. Laboratory tests confirmed that the disease was Ebola hemorrhagic fever. The first confirmed death was a baby in the village of Nyanswiga, according to a health official; her family has since lost eight others to the outbreak. Fourteen of the 20 people who are suspected of having contracted the virus have died.
A clinical officer who treated the original case fell ill and died soon afterward. Her 4-month-old baby, admitted for treatment on Monday, died Friday evening.
The clinical officer’s sister, who took care of her when she became ill, has been admitted for treatment with similar symptoms, but is in “fairly stable” condition, the government statement said.
While outbreaks of different strands of Ebola occur every few years, the virus’s delicate composition has impeded a sustained attack. But much about the disease, including its origins and cure, remain unknown. Between 2007 and 2008, an outbreak in western Uganda of a new strain of Ebola killed 39 people. In May 2011, Ebola Sudan was identified as the cause of death in the case of a 12-year-old girl in Uganda.
The C.D.C. keeps a team of scientists and a laboratory in Uganda to study Ebola and other deadly viruses and hemorrhagic fevers often found in equatorial Africa. Ebola has recently been among those highlighted by the United States as a potential biological-weapons threat.
In response to the current outbreak, the C.D.C. said in a statement on Saturday that it was helping to identify and trace “all those who may have had contact with suspect or confirmed cases since early July.”