DR Congo Ebola outbreak: Child in Uganda dies of virus

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Nearly 1,400 people have died in a recent outbreak in neighbouring DR Congo

A five-year-old boy in Uganda has died from Ebola, health officials have said.

The death is the first in Uganda, amid a deadly outbreak in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo. Officials said his grandmother and younger brother also had the disease.

The Ugandan government is now reporting seven suspected cases of Ebola.

The boy is said to have travelled across the border with his family from DR Congo on Sunday.

He was then taken to a Ugandan hospital after exhibiting symptoms, including vomiting blood, officials said.

The World Health Organization (WHO), citing Uganda's Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng, announced on Twitter that the boy had died on Tuesday.

More than 2,000 cases have been recorded in DR Congo in the last 10 months - most of which have been fatal.

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Fifty people in Uganda are suspected to have come into contact with the seven people known to have contracted the deadly disease, the Ugandan government said.

The government has suspended mass gatherings including market days and prayers. Market days in the town of Kasese attract an estimated 20,000 people at the border area.

Uganda's health ministry and the WHO said a rapid response team had been dispatched to identify others at risk and to follow up on eight other possible cases.

Uganda has already vaccinated about 4,700 health workers against the disease, according to a joint statement by WHO and Ugandan health officials.

Media caption,
Treating Ebola in the DR Congo warzone

The outbreak in DR Congo is the second biggest in history, with a significant spike in new cases noted in recent weeks. Nearly 1,400 people have died of the disease since August.

Only once before has an outbreak continued to grow more than eight months after it began - that was the epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016, which killed 11,310 people.

What is Ebola?

  • Ebola is a virus that initially causes sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat.
  • It progresses to vomiting, diarrhoea and both internal and external bleeding.
  • People are infected when they have direct contact through broken skin, or the mouth and nose, with the blood, vomit, faeces or bodily fluids of someone with Ebola.
  • Patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure.

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