Uganda confirms first Ebola case

A child in Uganda has tested positive for Ebola, the first confirmed case of the disease in the country since the ongoing outbreak in neighboring Democratic Republic of the Congo began in August, the World Health Organization said.

The 5-year-old Congolese child entered the country with his family through the Bwera Border post Sunday seeking medical care at Kagando Hospital, near the western border with DMC, when staff identified that the child may be sick with Ebola, WHO said in a release.

Confirmation of the disease was made Tuesday by the Uganda Virus Institute and the child was admitted to the Bwera Ebola Treatment Unit where he is receiving treatment while contacts are being monitored, WHO said.

The Uganda Ministry of Health said the child is being kept in isolation.

In response to the confirmed case, the Uganda Ministry of Health and WHO have dispatched a Rapid Response Team to Kasese to identify others who may be infected with the disease.

The announcement comes as WHO with the DRC have been battling to contain the second-greatest Ebola outbreak in history that, as of June 4, has resulted in 1,346 deaths in the African country and surpassed 2,000 confirmed cases since the outbreak began last August. The number of confirmed cases has been growing each week with them exploding in March, according to WHO.

In a statement, the DRC Ministry of Health said the child and 14 family members arrived at the DRC border town of Kasindi where 12 of them were listed by health officials as symptomatic, stopped from entering Uganda and transferred to an isolation center at Kasindi Hospital. Seven of the suspected cases are children, one as young as 7 months.

That night, six family members left the isolation and crossed into Uganda on foot to avoid health checks.

“Congolese health authorities immediately notified the Ugandan authorities and provided them with the names and phone numbers of suspected cases,” the DRC health ministry said.

The boy and his family were then found at Kagando Hospital, where he and five other relatives were transferred and isolated at the Bwera ETU, it said.

The DRC health ministry said the boy’s mother, who is Congolese and married to a Ugandan, traveled to DRC in May to care for her ailing father, who died May 27 of Ebola.

The remaining six family members were transferred Tuesday to the Beni Ebola Treatment Center in the DRC and their samples were being analyzed.

Officials with both the Uganda and DRC health ministries will meet Wednesday in Kasese to discuss the repatriation of the family to the DRC to continue treatment here.

The Uganda Ministry of Health said that in preparation of a possible outbreak in the country, it has vaccinated nearly 4,700 health workers at 165 medical facilities with a new vaccine, which is being used in the DRC.

In late May, WHO appointed an emergency Ebola response coordinate to the DRC outbreak.

The disease has been difficult to contain there due to instability and political protests, which have caused disruptions to efforts to fight the disease, WHO said.