Ebola outbreak confirmed in Uganda

Laverne Higgins
June 12, 2019

Uganda's health ministry says a patient has tested positive for Ebola in what is the first cross-border case of the deadly virus since an outbreak started in neighbouring Congo a year ago.

"All the other Congolese family members have been identified and are in isolation at Bwera hospital", said a spokesperson for the ministry, speaking on national television.

Uganda's health ministry and the WHO have sent a team to the western town of Kasese to trace likely cases, and vaccinate those who may have come into contact with the patient, the post added.

The 5-year-old Congolese boy allegedly crossed the border into Uganda alongside his family on Sunday, June 9.

Uganda has been on high alert since the start of the Ebola outbreak in DRC in August 2018.

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The outbreak in DR Congo has become the second biggest in history, with a significant spike in new cases noted in recent weeks. The Congolese Health Ministry told WHO that the family was traveling from Mabalako. Uganda officials found the family members at the Kagando hospital, where the boy's Ebola case was confirmed. He was then transferred to an Ebola treatment unit-where the health care workers already have been vaccinated-in nearby Bwera.

Officials from the two countries will meet on Wednesday about the possibility of sending the family back to Beni in Congo for treatment, the health ministry said.

The investigational vaccine being used in DRC and by health and frontline workers in Uganda has so far been effective in protecting people from developing the disease, and has helped those who do develop the disease to have a better chance of survival. The child is the first confirmation since the virus hit DRC.

"The spread of Ebola across the worldwide border is a clear signal that the global community must reset and redouble its efforts" in fighting the disease, the worldwide Rescue Committee said in a statement calling itself "extremely alarmed".

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