KAMPALA (Reuters) – A five-year-old boy is being treated for Ebola in Uganda, the first since a fatal outbreak in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo 10 months ago, Health Minister Ruth Aceng said on Tuesday .
Uganda has been on alert since the outbreak on a porous border in eastern DRC, where more than 2,000 cases of the highly contagious virus have been recorded, two-thirds of which were fatal.
"A case of Ebola has been confirmed as positive," Aceng told AFP.
She said the patient was a boy who traveled with his family from the town of Kasese in western Uganda to the Democratic Republic of Congo for a funeral and became ill when he returned.
"The boy was taken to isolation unit as well as other family members for monitoring. He is receiving treatment," she said.
The World Health Organization has confirmed that the highly contagious virus has spread to Uganda in its second worst outbreak ever.
"The Ministry of Health and WHO have sent a rapid response team to Kasese to identify others who may be at risk and ensure that they are monitored and cared for if they become ill," the WHO said in a statement.
According to WHO, Uganda vaccinated about 4,700 health professionals at 165 facilities with an experimental drug designed to protect them against the virus.
Uganda has experienced several outbreaks in the past, most recently in 2012, while in 2000 more than 200 people died in an outbreak in the north of the country.
BATTLE AGAINST VIRUS
The Democratic Republic of Congo has struggled to contain the outbreak that was first recorded in North Kivu province on 1 August and then spread to neighboring Ituri and left more than 1,300 dead.
Efforts to tackle the crisis have been hampered by both militia attacks on treatment centers and the hostility of some local people to medical staff.
Five workers were killed, according to an AFP report, and important preventative work, such as vaccination and burial programs for Ebola victims, has been postponed.
The outbreak is the tenth in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the disease was identified in 1976.
It is the worst ever recorded after an epidemic that hit Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone between 2014 and 2016, leaving more than 11,300 people dead.
"It's clear that the current response to fighting Ebola is not working, no matter how effective the treatment, if people do not trust or understand it, they will not use it," said Oxfam's director for the DRC Corinne N & 39; Daw, said last week.
"Our teams are still meeting people on a daily basis who do not believe Ebola is real … many cases are going unnoticed because people with symptoms have been avoiding treatment."
Ebola is transmitted to people of wild animals and spreads among humans, despite close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of an infected person.
Chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelopes and porcupines can also be infected, and humans who kill and eat these animals can catch the virus through them.
Symptoms include high fever, severe muscle and joint pain, headache and sore throat, often accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea, rash, kidney and liver failure, internal and external bleeding.
There is currently no licensed drug to prevent or treat Ebola, although a number of experimental drugs are being developed and thousands have been vaccinated in the DRC and in some neighboring countries.
The average mortality rate for Ebola is about 50 percent, ranging from 25 to 90 percent, according to WHO.