Three more people have died from a new strain of the Ebola virus in Uganda, bringing the death toll to 19, health officials said Monday. Health workers in the area were fleeing in fear.
The disease has now been detected in five districts in western Uganda, said Dr. Sam Zaramba, director general of Uganda's health service.
The first case was reported on Nov. 10 in Bundibugyo district, on the Congolese border and about 200 miles (300 kilometers) west of the Ugandan capital, Kampala.
Simon Atuhe, a local official in Bundibugyo, said health workers were abandoning their jobs in fear.
"There is a shortage of manpower because some health workers have fled," he said. "We are in a crisis."
Tests conducted on some of the samples by a national lab in Uganda and confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the virus belongs to a different subtype than the four already known, the World Health Organization said.
Ebola typically kills most of those it strikes through massive blood loss, and has no cure or treatment. It is spread through direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person, or objects that have been contaminated with infected secretions.
The last previous outbreak of Ebola in Uganda occurred in October 2000 when 173 people died and a total of 426 people were diagnosed with it in the north of the country.
WHO says more than 1,000 people have died of Ebola since the virus was first identified in 1976 in Sudan and Congo. Primates, hunted by many central Africans for food, can carry the virus.