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“Ever since the second-largest Ebola outbreak began raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo in August, health authorities have feared that the virus might one day spill over DRC’s porous borders.
That moment, unfortunately, has arrived.
On Tuesday, the World Health Organization confirmed the first case of Ebola spreading from DRC to neighboring Uganda. A 5-year-old Congolese child traveled across the border with his family on June 9 and then sought medical care in Uganda. The boy died overnight, and now his 3-year-old brother and 50-year-old grandmother have also been diagnosed with the virus. They’re being treated in Uganda.
According to the WHO, Uganda has been preparing for this moment. Health authorities there have vaccinated nearly 4,700 health workers in 165 health facilities (including the one where the deceased child was cared for). They’ve also set up Ebola treatment units to isolate and care for the sick.
Still, it’s a disturbing development in an outbreak that remains out of control. “This epidemic is in a truly frightening phase and shows no sign of stopping anytime soon,” said Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, in a statement. “We can expect and should plan for more cases in DRC and neighboring countries.””
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