FILE: The virus was named Ebola after a river close to Yambuku. AFP/Isaac Kasamani
KAMPALA - A five-year-old boy in Uganda has has died of Ebola, the health minister told AFP Wednesday, as his grandmother and younger brother also tested positive for the virus after joining the child on a visit to neighbouring DR Congo.
Health Minister Ruth Aceng said Uganda had now recorded three cases of Ebola.
It marks the first known cross-border spread in an epidemic that began in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) last August. More than 2,000 cases have been recorded there, around two-thirds of them fatal.
Uganda's health ministry said on Tuesday that a woman of Congolese origin, who is married to a Ugandan, had gone to the DRC with her mother, two children and one other family member to take care of her father, who later died of Ebola.
Upon their return to Uganda, the five-year-old boy was vomiting blood and taken to hospital, and lab tests revealed he had contracted the haemorrhagic virus.
The family were quarantined, Aceng said.
Blood tests later confirmed the boy's three-year-old brother and 50-year-old grandmother also had Ebola.
"We have three cases of Ebola confirmed. Unfortunately, we lost the boy who was first tested and was found positive," Aceng said.
"We have put all those that got in contact with the boy in isolation ward for monitoring."
The child was buried late Wednesday in Kasese, in Uganda's west, health ministry spokeswoman Emma Ainebyoona told AFP.
Eight other people in contact with the family had been tracked down and were being monitored.
They and frontline health workers would be vaccinated on Friday with a new drug designed to protect them against the virus.
While they were in the DRC, the family were identified as having been in contact with an Ebola patient and placed under quarantine, Congolese Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said.