Ugandan boy, 5, dies as Ebola spreads

Ebola virus virion.
Ebola virus virion.
Image: Cynthia Goldsmith

A five-year-old boy who tested positive for Ebola in Uganda has died, a health ministry official said on Wednesday, as two of his family members also tested positive for the virus after a visit to the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

The World Health Organisation confirmed on Twitter that Uganda has now recorded three cases of Ebola, in the first spread across the country’s porous western border with the DRC where more than 2,000 cases of the highly contagious virus have been registered.

Uganda’s health ministry said on Tuesday that a woman of Congolese origin, who is married to a Ugandan, had gone with her child and four other family members to take care of her father in the DRC, who later died of Ebola.

DRC health minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said the family had been placed in isolation after being identified as in contact with an Ebola patient.

“During the isolation, some family members crossed into Uganda. As soon as they crossed, we contacted the Ugandan authorities,” he said.

Uganda’s health ministry said the family members had been identified and were placed in isolation in Bwera, a town near the border with the DRC.

“Two more samples were sent to UVRI (Uganda Virus Research Institute) and have tested positive,” the WHO Uganda posted on its Twitter account, citing a briefing from Ugandan health minister Ruth Aceng.

“We, therefore, have three confirmed cases of Ebola in Uganda.”

Eight other people in contact with the family had been tracked down and were being monitored.

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.

South Sudan has also declared a state of alert.