Update (June 13): NPR reports that a second patient in Uganda has died of Ebola.
Three family members represent the first cases of Ebola in the current outbreak outside of Democratic Republic of Congo. A woman and her two young grandchildren tested positive for the virus after traveling from DRC to Uganda this week, according to the Associated Press, and one of the kids, a five-year-old boy, has died.
“This epidemic is in a truly frightening phase and shows no sign of stopping,” Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust global health charity, tells Reuters.
Nearly 1,400 people have died in the outbreak that began in DRC last August, making it the second-deadliest in history, after the Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2014–2016 that killed more than 11,000 people.
According to the AP, the victim and his family members had been waiting in DRC for transport to a healthcare facility because they showed signs of Ebola, but only some of them stayed in place. The boy and a handful of other family members traveled to Uganda where he, his brother, and grandmother ended up in a hospital near the border.
“Many people are evading (border) customs and using small footpaths and it is difficult for us to follow the contacts,” Dominique Kabongo, coordinator of Ebola response teams in Kasindi, DRC, tells the AP.
Evasion of border control, a mistrust of healthcare workers, and violence in DRC has impaired efforts to contain the virus’ transmission. A spokesperson for the World Health Organization tells Reuters that five healthcare workers have been killed in violent attacks this year.
“The current cases in Uganda will be quickly contained but the failure to stop the current Ebola epidemic in DRC is simply tragic,” Ian Jones, a virologist at Reading University, tells Reuters.
A newly developed vaccine against Ebola appears to be preventing some transmission of the disease, and drug developers are testing a number of experimental therapies to treat infections. The New York Times reports that Ugandan authorities anticipated the outbreak’s spread, and 4,700 healthcare workers there have received the vaccine.