The year-old Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is now spreading to neighboring countries, as a five-year-old boy in Uganda died from the disease and two of his close relatives there were infected.
The boy is from a Congolese family who had crossed into western Uganda on June 9, was the first confirmed case of Ebola outside the Democratic Republic of Congo since the highly infectious illness erupted there last summer.
The Ugandan government has reported at least six other suspected cases of the virus.
The director-general of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, announced that he was convening a meeting of a group of outside expert advisers on Friday to assess whether the Ebola spread had become an international public health emergency.
Following the spread of #Ebola to #Uganda from #DRC, I am reconvening the IHR Emergency Committee on 14 June in Geneva to ascertain whether the outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern. This will be the 3rd meeting of the committee on this outbreak. pic.twitter.com/tchEuKmu6k
— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) June 12, 2019
Infectious disease experts expressed alarm about Ebola’s spillover into Uganda, even though that country has long anticipated that possibility and administered a promising new vaccine to thousands of health workers, as have the health authorities in Congo.
The Congo outbreak is the second-deadliest on record, infecting more than 2,071 people and causing at least 1,396 deaths in the country as of June 10, according to the W.H.O. Its epicenter in a conflict zone has complicated efforts to contain the disease.
Health workers, including doctors, have been attacked and killed, and some treatment centers have been destroyed. In April, the Islamic State claimed its first assault in the affected area.
International health experts also have expressed worry about an acceleration in the number of Ebola infections. While it took about eight months to reach 1,000 cases, it has taken only a few months to surpass 2,000.