A five-year-old boy has tested positive for Ebola in Uganda, the first cross-border case since an outbreak began in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo last year, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced.
The health agency said in a statement on Tuesday that the boy had travelled with family from the DRC to Uganda on June 9.
“The child and his family entered the country through Bwera Border post and sought medical care at Kagando hospital [in Kasese, Uganda] where health workers identified Ebola as a possible cause of illness,” it added.
Uganda’s health ministry said the boy and his relatives, including his mother – a Congolese woman married to a Ugandan man residing in Kasese – had travelled to DRC before returning to Uganda on June 10.
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Uganda’s health ministry and the WHO sent a team to the western town of Kasese to trace likely cases and vaccinate those who might have come into contact with the patient, the statement continued.
Uganda has been on high alert since the start of the Ebola outbreak in DRC in August 2018. More than 2,000 cases of the highly contagious virus have been recorded, including 1,357 deaths, in eastern DRC’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces.
The disease is spread mainly through contact with the bodily fluids of those infected.
According to the WHO, Uganda vaccinated nearly 4,700 health workers in 165 facilities with an experimental drug designed to protect them against the virus.
Uganda has experienced several outbreaks in the past, most recently in 2012, while in 2000 more than 200 people died in an outbreak in the north of the country.
While health officials have focused on the far deadlier hemorrhagic Ebola virus concentrated in DRC’s east, some 87,000 suspected cases of measles have been reported across the vast central African country in the first four and a half months of this year.
The health ministry revealed the measles figure when it declared the epidemic on Monday.
In a statement on Tuesday, medical charity Doctors Without Borders called for “a massive mobilisation of all relevant national and international organisations in order to vaccinate more children and treat patients” affected by measles.
The health ministry said its vaccination campaign would target a further 1.4 million infants, and that 2.2 million had been vaccinated in April.