- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The World Health Organization said Tuesday they’ve confirmed a case of Ebola in Uganda, marking the first border-hopping case since the start of an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo last year.

Officials said the 5-year-old patient entered from DRC through the Bwera Border post on Monday and sought care at a nearby hospital.

Health workers suspected Ebola and transferred him to a treatment unit for the disease. Ugandan investigators confirmed the case on Tuesday and are caring for the boy.

Ugandan Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng said the boy crossed the border with his mother and four other family members. Two family members have shown symptoms of Ebola and are being tested.

The boy’s mother is Congolese. However, she is married to a man of Ugandan origin and lives in the Kasese District. She’d gone home to DRC to nurse her father, who died of Ebola.

WHO and the Ugandan ministry of health are dispatching a team to identify people in the area who might be at risk of infection. The ministry identified eight contacts, and will begin to vaccinate the ring of possible connections to the boy on Friday.

WHO stressed that Uganda has experience with outbreaks and that spillover from the nearly year-old epidemic in the DRC was not unexpected.

Uganda has vaccinated nearly 4,700 health workers in 165 facilities and increased its vigilance in preparation, while the International Federation of the Red Cross pledged to “intensify support to help prevent its further spread.”

Still, it’s a new chapter in the second-worst Ebola outbreak on record.

The outbreak, which began in August, is unfolding in a portion of northeast DRC that’s riven by sectarian violence and subject to rampant migration.

To date, DRC has recorded over 2,000 cases resulting in nearly 1,400 deaths.

The WHO in April decided the outbreak did not rise to the level of a global health emergency, a designation that would elevate the issue and almost certainly bring new resources.

Still, the organization has called on world partners to continue to fund the effort, such as tracing contacts of infected persons and stockpiling a trial vaccine and experimental therapies.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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