DR Congo Ebola outbreak: Child in Uganda diagnosed with virus

Baz Ratner  Reuters FILE

"Although there have been numerous previous alerts, this is the first confirmed case in Uganda during the Ebola outbreak on-going in neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo", WHO said.

"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.

The patient, a 5-year-old Congolese boy, has been isolated at a hospital in a district near the Congo border, Ugandan Health Minister Jane Aceng told reporters.

As of June 9, the World Health Organization reports 2,062 cases (1,968 confirmed and 94 probable), including 1,390 deaths (1,296 confirmed and 94 probable) in the outbreak. The outbreak is unfolding amid unprecedented challenges of rebel attacks and community resistance in a region that had never experienced Ebola before. According to WHO Uganda and the Ugandan Ministry of Health, the child is under care and receiving supportive treatment at the facility.

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"Our teams in Uganda have been training and preparing for this possibility, working in infection prevention and control and training health clinics in the country to recognize symptoms and safely triage and transfer suspected cases to Ebola treatment centers", said Kellie Ryan, a spokeswoman for the International Rescue Committee, which has teams on the periphery of the outbreak zone, both in and outside of Congo, preparing for potential new cases.

Uganda accepts refugees from Congo, and many health workers felt that despite their best efforts, spread of the virus to Uganda had just been a matter of time.

In response to the confirmed case a rapid response team has been dispatched to Kasese to being contact tracing and "management of cases that are likely to occur".

Health officials have feared the spread of the virus, which has festered in DRC's North Kivu and Ituri provinces for almost a year. The team will also being vaccination individuals who have been in contact with the ill child, including frontline health workers. But global spread is one of the major criteria the United Nations agency considers before such a declaration.

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