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Afr Health Sci. 2001 Dec;1(2):60-5.

Ebola haemorrhagic fever among hospitalised children and adolescents in northern Uganda: epidemiologic and clinical observations.

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  • 1Gulu Regional Referral Hospital Northern Uganda, P. O. Box 160, Gulu, Uganda.



A unique feature of previous Ebola outbreaks has been the relative sparing of children. For the first time, an out break of an unusual illness-Ebola haemorrhagic fever occurred in Northern Uganda Gulu district.


To describe the epidemiologic and clinical aspects of hospitalised children and adolescents on the isolation wards.


A retrospective descriptive survey of hospital records for hospitalised children and adolescents under 18 years on the isolation wards in Gulu, Northern Uganda was conducted. All patient test notes were consecutively reviewed and non was excluded because being deficient.


Analysis revealed that 90 out of the 218 national laboratory confirmed Ebola cases were children and adolescents with a case fatality of 40%. The mean age was 8.2 years +/- SD 5.6 with a range of 16.99 years. The youngest child on the isolation wards was 3 days old. The under fives contributed the highest admission (35%) among children and adolescents; and case fatality because of prolonged close contact with the seropositive relatives among the laboratory confirmed cases. All (100%) Ebola positive children and adolescents were febrile while only 16% had hemorrhagic manifestations.


Similar to previous Ebola outbreaks, a relative sparing of children in this outbreak was observed. The under fives were at an increased risk of contact with the sick and dying.


Strategies to shield children from exposure to dying and sick Ebola relatives are recommended in the event of future Ebola outbreaks. Health education to children and adolescents to avoid contact with sick and their body fluids should be emphasized.

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