Uganda’s Ministry of Health said on Tuesday that it has dispatched a team of epidemiologists to its Mubende district to trace and isolate individuals who were in contact with confirmed or suspected Ebola victims.

This came after the World Health Organization declared an Ebola outbreak in the country on Tuesday after a case of the relatively rare Sudan strain was confirmed in Mubende in the central part of Uganda.

“This is the first time in more than a decade that Uganda is recording the Ebola Sudan strain. We are working closely with the national health authorities to investigate the source of this outbreak, while supporting the efforts to quickly roll out effective control measures,” Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, said.

“Uganda is no stranger to effective Ebola control. Thanks to its expertise, action has been taken to quickly detect the virus and we can bank on this knowledge to halt the spread of infections.”

Diana Atwine, permanent secretary of Uganda’s health ministry, said authorities received the positive results on Monday and are still investigating and tracing the source.

“We have already dispatched a team that has gone to work alongside the district’s rapid response teams, especially in the community tracking all the contacts of those who died and isolating the contacts,” Atwine said.

The WHO said the Uganda Virus Research Institute confirmed the case after testing a sample taken from a 24-year-old male. This follows an investigation by the National Rapid Response team of six suspicious deaths that have occurred in the country this month. There are currently eight suspected cases who are receiving care in a health facility.

“WHO is helping Ugandan health authorities with the investigation and is deploying staff to the affected area. The organization has dispatched supplies to support the care of patients and is sending a tent that will be used to isolate patients,” the WHO said in a statement.

Henry Kyobe, incidence commander in Uganda’s Ministry of Health, set out to allay fears saying that they have instituted preliminary measures to control the transmission of the viral disease, both within and outside the affected Mubende district.

“We have sent our rapid response team to go ahead and do what we call oral and verbal post-mortem to guide us deeper and see whether the people who passed on could have had symptoms similar to Ebola symptoms,” Kyobe said.

“Those found with Ebola symptoms will be probable cases, but the team will go ahead to trace the contact of those cases who will be with such symptoms similar to Ebola. They will assess the contacts for any symptoms and those that will have symptoms will be referred to health facilities, isolated, given treatment and samples taken.”

The WHO said there have been seven previous outbreaks of the Sudan strain of Ebola, with four occurring in Uganda and three in Sudan. Uganda last reported an outbreak of the Sudan strain in 2012. In 2019, the country experienced an outbreak of the Zaire strain of Ebola, which was imported from the neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo.