A 9-year-old Congolese girl has died of Ebola in Uganda near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Ministry of Health said Friday.
The young girl and her mother traveled from DRC to the Ugandan district of Kasese, seeking medical care on Wednesday. She was identified at the port of entry, isolated, and transferred to the Ebola unit at a local hospital where she was being managed, the ministry said.
The Ministry of Health said her body was sent to the DRC upon her father’s request. It added that four out of the five Congolese who had had contact with the girl have been repatriated to the country for proper follow-up.
Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, World Health Organization Country Representative to Uganda, said those who may have come in contact with the patient will be vaccinated and more than 8,000 people have been vaccinated against Ebola in high-risk areas in the country.
Uganda’s authorities beefed up border controls and banned public gatherings in the region affected by Ebola in June after the disease was first detected in the country.
With 3,000 cases and 2,000 deaths recorded since the outbreak was declared August last year, the Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has reached another troubling milestone, the WHO said on Thursday.
While the vast majority of infections remain in DRC’s North Kivu Province, in recent weeks the virus has spread to neighboring South Kivu Province and the transit hub of Goma along the border with Rwanda.
It was the threat of cross border transmission that led the WHO to declare the outbreak a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” last month as responders looked to refocus their efforts in combating the spread.
In a separate release on Thursday, the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) said it had recently doubled the number of response experts in the DRC.
More than 200,000 people have been vaccinated against the virus in the DRC along with health workers in surrounding countries.
The response has also included therapeutic treatments that have shown great effectiveness in an early clinic trial. But it’s the region’s political instability, sporadic violence and limited infrastructure that continue to plague efforts to end the outbreak.
Ebola virus disease can cause fever, headache, muscle pain, vomiting, diarrhea and unexplained bleeding, among other symptoms. The virus was first identified in 1976 when outbreaks occurred near the Ebola River in Congo.