Boy, 5, dies of Ebola after disease spreads across border

A five-year-old boy has become the latest victim of the highly contagious Ebola outbreak that is now sweeping across several countries in Africa.

The boy was taken to hospital vomiting blood but died overnight in hospital in Uganda.

His brother, three, and 50-year-old grandmother have also tested positive for the disease that has already killed nearly 1,400 in neighbouring Congo.

The boy was part of a Congolese family that crossed into Uganda earlier in the week.

The death is the first fatality in Uganda during the current outbreak and officials are trying to determine how the family manged to cross the border.

Currently hundreds of thousands of people travelling across the borders in east Africa are being screened.

The family were said to have already tested positive in Congo but managed to leave a treatment centre and move across to Uganda.

The latest Ebola outbreak is the second-deadliest in history.

Experts have long feared Ebola could spread out from the Congo, one of the world’s most turbulent regions.

The virus can spread quickly via close contact with bodily fluids of those infected and can be fatal in up to 90% of cases.

Director of Uganda’s national health team, Henry Mwebesa, said the country was ‘not panicking’.

He added: ‘We have all the contingencies to contain this case. It’s not going to go beyond’ the patient’s family.

Mr Mwebesa said the Congolese family in question had not passed through an official border point, where all travellers are screened.

He added that the victim’s mother was married to a Ugandan and so ‘knows where to pass’ to avoid the guards.

Many Congolese cross on footpaths away from official border posts and some paths are unguarded.

Other people wade through the shallow Lubiriha River instead of using a bridge, to avoid being stopped by border officials.

Uganda is more stable than eastern Congo, and for the first time an experimental but effective Ebola vaccine is being widely used, with more than 130,000 doses distributed.

Uganda has vaccinated nearly 4,700 health workers, and WHO is shipping in another 3,500 vaccine doses this week for health workers and close contacts of those infected.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) expert committee has decided twice that the current outbreak, while of ‘deep concern,’ is not yet a global health emergency.

But international spread is one of the major criteria the United Nations agency considers before such a declaration.

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