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Many factors contribute to the severity of viral epidemics. Two outbreaks of Ebola, one in Uganda and one in the Republic of the Congo, were compared to assess their impact on social and political environment and the impact of viral strain on identification and containment of disease. The outbreaks were similar in many respects, allowing comparison of factors such as duration of outbreak, number affected and mortality. Both outbreaks were the first reported in the region and occurred during the same time of year. Both affected nations had the same access to international resources, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and other aid groups willing to assist and provide financial support/resources. Data for this study was gathered from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the WHO’s published data on the outbreaks in Uganda and Republic of Congo in 2000 and 2001, respectively.
The results demonstrate that the percent of the population infected, percent mortality, length of outbreak and virulence of the Ebola strain were all greater in the Republic of Congo outbreak, arguably due to differences in the social and political climate. The general response to the Ugandan outbreak was more rapid and more effective. Although different strains of the Ebola virus caused the outbreaks, mortality rates were high for both the Ebola-Zaire and Ebola-Sudan strains. Both outbreaks had decreased mortality rates compared to initial predictions. It is argued that the data from the Republic of the Congo outbreak was artificially low due to reporting bias and changes in outbreak parameters, resulting in a greater reported mortality. Indeed, prompt, organized and monitored infection control protocols are imperative to limit the morbidity and mortality of this disease, as seen in both the Uganda and the Republic of the Congo outbreaks.