Dr. Edward Mbidde, the UVRI Director, explains that the high containment laboratory will expand their capacity to rapidly diagnose diseases like Ebola and Marburg among others.
Uganda is now capable of rapidly diagnosing viral diseases associated with hemorrhagic fever.
The Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI) together with the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has finally renovated the viral hemorrhagic fever laboratory.
Dr. Edward Mbidde, the UVRI Director, explains that the high containment laboratory will expand their capacity to rapidly diagnose diseases like Ebola and Marburg. This will allow them to quickly identify outbreaks and limit the spread of the diseases.
Other diseases that have been diagnosed at the UVRI include Schistosomiasis commonly known as bilharzia and Hepatitis E. Also in this category are Botulism, a rare but serious illness related to food poisoning and which affects the nerves, Typhoid, Anthrax, Yellow Fever and Nodding disease.
Dr. Mbidde explains that when the samples are brought in, they run a test for evidence of the virus in the antibodies and within 24 hours tell which virus it is. However, if the disease manifests itself in different ways, the samples are still sent to the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta, the United States.
//Cue in: “In the early epidemic, the…”
Cue out:…people are infected or not.”//
The Laboratory includes specialised diagonistic equipment for virus detection, rapid tests for characterization of viruses and a high containment area with secure and limited access.
Trevor Shoemaker, the CDC Epidemiologist, explains how the improved information technology and networking works when a sample is brought in.
//Cue in: “So inside this laboratory we…”
Cue out:…for molecular testing.”//
The laboratory shall also be a referral point for the East African region in cases of hemorrhagic fever outbreaks.
Meanwhile, despite the improved technology, Dr. Mbidde says they have still failed to find out which actual agent or factors are responsible for causing Nodding disease.
//Cue in: “It is still a puzzle because…”
Cue out:…seems to have an answer now.”//
The CDC has now established community and mortality surveillance in the affected areas. Tadesse Wuhib, the CDC Director in Uganda, says one of the problems is their failure to get pathologist specimen to detect the cause of nodding disease.
He says a clinical treatment trial is in the offing to establish the best treatment regimen. He adds that one of the most expensive studies that need to be done is the prospective cause study in which the affected families are followed up.
Previous studies have only shown suspicions that are related to river blindness and Vitamin B6 deficiency.
The development comes ahead of an East African regional bio-surveillance workshop in Kampala. Leading health experts will work toward reducing biological threats in East Africa and also identify new collaborative opportunities related to the interface of animal and human disease.
uganda virus research insititute
uvri director dr. edward mbidde
trevor shoemaker the cdc epidemiologist
united states centers for disease control and prevention
east african regional bio-surveillance