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Three die in Uganda from Ebola-like fever: Health Ministry

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Three people have died in northern Uganda from a suspected outbreak of a highly infectious hemorrhagic fever, the Health Ministry said on Friday.

A male farmer is still being treated for a confirmed case of Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF), and the three other deaths are being investigated, junior health minister Elioda Tumwesigye told a news conference.

Doctors at first suspected the farmer had Ebola, the highly contagious and lethal viral fever, after falling ill on August 8 with sudden headache, bleeding, high fever, joint muscle pain, vomiting, red eyes, back pain and stomach pain.

Subsequent tests showed it was CCHF. Caused by a tick-borne virus, it is highly infectious and is endemic in livestock in Africa. It kills 40 percent of all the people it infects, according to the Health Ministry.

The ministry said it was tracking six other people who had come into contact with the sick farmer, being treated at Kalongo Hospital in Agago district, 450 km north of the capital Kampala, and that an isolation facility had been set up.

The east African country has suffered several episodes of Ebola and another hemorrhagic fever, Marbug, since 2000. The most recent case was in October last year in Kibaale, near the Democratic Republic of Congo, when Marbug killed five people.

The largest outbreak of Ebola in the country was in 2000 in the north of the country, which infecting 425 people and killed more than half of them.

Health services in Uganda are severely underfunded and understaffed with leading referral hospitals lacking basic medical supplies.

The ministry advised people to avoid close physical contact with animals and suspected infected people.

(Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; Editing by Duncan Miriri and Alison Williams)

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