Ebola Death Toll Rises in Uganda; WHO Says No Evidence It’s Spreading

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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.

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.”

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