Dr. Mike Ryan, the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, in comments to the Associated Press (AP) , said that it was a Congolese pastor who is thought to have caused the Ebola outbreak’s spread into Uganda and his sickness was unknown to health officials before he died of the disease.
Ryan said that this underlines the problems in tracking the virus as a WHO expert panel on Friday discusses whether to declare a global health emergency.
As a third relative of the pastor found infected in Uganda died Ryan told AP and added that he did not believe the man had been on any list of high-risk Ebola contacts that health workers use to track infections and contain the outbreak.
The first cross-border cases in this Ebola outbreak — the second-deadliest in history — have prompted the WHO expert committee to again consider declaring a global health emergency after twice deciding against it.
The three family members became infected with Ebola when they travelled from Uganda to Congo to visit him. His 5-year-old grandson became the first Ebola case in Uganda. The boy’s grandmother and 3-year-old brother have since died.
The pastor’s positive test for Ebola came back only after he was buried, Dr. Dominique Kabongo, coordinator of Ebola response teams in Kasindi, told the AP.
More than 1,400 people have died in this outbreak declared in August in eastern Congo and rebel attacks and resistance by community members wary of authorities have badly hampered Ebola containment work.