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Uganda Confirms First Ebola Case as Virus Crosses Border From Congo

FILE - An Ebola health worker is seen at a treatment center in Beni, Eastern Congo, April, 16, 2019.

Uganda's Health Ministry has confirmed that a five-year-old boy tested positive for Ebola, marking the first time the virus has spread across national borders during what has become the second-worst outbreak in recorded history.

The Congolese child, who arrived in Uganda Sunday with his family, has been isolated at a hospital in Kasese, a city along the country’s western border with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The news is a blow to health workers who have been fighting for months to prevent the spread if the virus across the border from Congo, where more than 2,000 cases have been recorded in the past 10 months. Almost 1,400 of them have died.

"The Ministry of Health and WHO (World Health Organization) have dispatched a Rapid Response Team to Kasese to identify other people who may be at risk, and ensure they are monitored and provided with care if they also become ill," the WHO said in a statement.

Aid workers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and USAID have begun training and vaccinating health care workers in Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan, all countries that neighbor the impacted parts of Congo.

Ugandan Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng told a news conference on Tuesday that the boy's family members are being monitored, including two who have exhibited Ebola-like symptoms.

She tweeted that the country has moved into "response mode" following the incident.

The first major outbreak of the epidemic occurred in 2013 and lasted nearly three years, killing more than 11,000 people in West Africa.