Ebola is so terrifying and so deadly that an outbreak in Uganda, where the death toll hit 14 on Tuesday, has already started taking its toll on social graces and, in at least one instance, causing a panic. President Yoweri Museveni warned people against kissing, as well as "shaking hands, casual sex and do-it-yourself burials" on Monday, Reuters' Elias Biryabarema reports. And people are apparently listening. One farmer in the affected district of Kibaale told Biryabarema, "People here love their drinking for instance, but now they're too scared to go to bars as they normally do daily," and "proprietors of lodges are also seeing their incomes shrink because people have been advised to avoid sex." Another district resident said he was terrified of the disease, but that social niceties were hard to overcome. "If you meet a good friend especially one you haven't seen in a long time and refuse to shake his or her hand, it might be misunderstood or create hard feelings between both of you."
Nobody seemed to be too worried about social graces at the local hospital, where the latest outbreak was first detected, a doctor told The Guardian's Clar Ni Chonghaile. "Immediately, when there was confirmation that it was Ebola … patients ran out of Kagadi hospital." The virus, which causes internal bleeding, has no cure. The fatality rate from the Sudan strain, which is at work in the latest outbreak, is about 65 percent, CNN reported. It's especially insidious in this instance, as patients at first didn't show typical symptoms, so doctors didn't identify ebola right away. Now that they have, expect Western Uganda to be a pretty unfriendly place until the health ministry gives the all clear.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.