The Latest: More dead in family that brought Ebola to Uganda
BWERA, Uganda (AP) — The latest on the Ebola outbreak in Congo and Uganda (all times local):
The Congolese Health Ministry says another child has died of Ebola, bringing the death toll to three within the same family that had recently traveled from Congo to Uganda.
The 3-year-old boy died as he was being brought to Congo for medical treatment. His 5-year-old brother and their grandmother already had died from the disease.
The children’s mother and father along with an infant sibling are still battling the disease, which has left more than 1,400 people dead since August.
The victims contracted Ebola from the children’s grandfather, a pastor who died in late May.
The World Health Organization says there’s no evidence Ebola is spreading within Uganda after the deadly virus crossed the border from Congo this week.
Dr. Michael Ryan tells The Associated Press he believes authorities “have contained the virus” to one family. He says 27 people who may have been exposed are being followed.
Uganda says it has three suspected Ebola cases not related to the family. Two family members have died and the rest have been transferred to Congo for monitoring and treatment.
Ryan says that “I think the chances of this spreading further are low but they’re not insignificant.”
He says one challenge in stopping the outbreak in Congo is reaching areas controlled by rebel groups, some of whom have reportedly demanded money for access.
Ryan says that “we don’t engage in any payment for access.” He says they have paid for incentives and logistic support for police and others, often at the request of Congo’s government.
The outbreak response has been undermined by attacks on health centers and by people suspicious of foreign aid workers.
- Jamey Keaten in Geneva
The World Health Organization’s emergencies chief says the Congolese man who is thought to have infected Uganda’s cluster of Ebola cases wasn’t on any list of potential contacts. That underlines the agency’s problems in tracking the deadly virus’ spread.
Dr. Michael Ryan tells The Associated Press he does not believe the man, a pastor, was on a list of high-risk Ebola contacts in Congo.
Ryan says that “it’s an unfortunate occurrence that a pastor who’s taking care of people and providing care to people is himself infected in the line of his own work and then ultimately goes on to infect others.”
The pastor spread the virus to at least three family members. His 5-year-old grandson was the first Ebola case in Uganda and the first death. The boy’s grandmother also died.
Ryan says about 55% of new Ebola cases in Congo last week were previously identified as potential contacts, suggesting significant problems in health workers’ ability to monitor where the virus is spreading.
Ryan says that “we still have too many people that are not coming from this (list) and we still have too many community deaths.”
- Jamey Keaten in Geneva
Health officials in eastern Congo are vaccinating some pregnant women and infants against Ebola for the first time since the outbreak was declared in August.
More than 1,400 people have now died from Ebola, and an experimental vaccine produced by Merck has provided a high degree of protection. More than 130,000 people have received the vaccine in Congo and Uganda, which reported its first Ebola cases this week. Two were children.
On Thursday, health workers in Congo’s town of Beni began vaccinating pregnant women who have passed the first trimester and are considered contacts of an Ebola case.
Breastfeeding babies are also being given the vaccine if they have been exposed to the virus.
Doctors had been concerned about the potential harm because the vaccine has not been tested in those groups.
That guidance has been reevaluated in light of the worsening outbreak and the high rate of fatalities among pregnant women and children.
Uganda’s health ministry says a second person infected with the Ebola virus has died after a family exposed to the disease quietly crossed the border from Congo.
The first cross-border cases in this Ebola outbreak have prompted a World Health Organization expert committee to meet on Friday to discuss whether to declare a global health emergency.
Health ministry spokesman Emmanuel Ainebyoona on Thursday confirmed the death of the 50-year-old woman overnight.
Her 5-year-old grandson was the first confirmed death from Ebola in Uganda. The boy’s 3-year-old brother also is infected.
Congo’s health ministry says all members of the Congolese-Ugandan family have agreed to be repatriated to Congo for experimental treatments as part of clinical trials.
The outbreak declared in eastern Congo in August has killed more than 1,400 people.