Ebola epidemic

 Missionaries and aid workers in Uganda have put out an urgent appeal for medical supplies to cope with the Ebola epidemic that is threatening to sweep the country. Fr Cosimo De Iaco, of the Comboni Fathers working in the North Ugandan districts of Gulu and Kitgum, said that at the local hospital supplies were running out quickly because the disease was so contagious. Bedding was being destroyed after use. He said: "We are using one hundred litres of bleach each day for sterilisation." In the meantime, more and more people suspected of having the disease are arriving at Lachor hospital. One Wednesday morning alone, 40 patients were admitted, including four student nurses. The epidemic alert began two weeks ago with the sudden death of three student nurses at the hospital. In spite of the danger, all the health personnel of the Lachor Hospital have decided to remain. The Comboni Missionaries report that many volunteers have also offered their help. The Ebola virus causes its victims to bleed to death. Six years ago it killed over 240 people in the north-eastern Congo. Haemorrhagic fevers, which include Ebola and 'Congo Fever' spread very quickly because they can be contracted through bodily fluids. Bodies of victims are enclosed in plastic bags and buried two to three metres under ground, a hospital spokesman said. Cremation would be safer, but this is forbidden by the local culture. Missionaries said church services were being cancelled for the time being to avoid gathering people in crowds. A campaign has been launched to inform people of precautions to take to avoid contracting the disease.

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