Uganda’s health minister said on Wednesday that six children in the Ugandan capital had tested positive for Ebola, marking a sharp exacerbation of the outbreak that was announced just over a month ago.
The children, who are pupils from three different schools in Kampala, are among at least 15 people in the city who have confirmed they have contracted the disease, according to a statement from Health Minister Jane Ruth Acing.
The statement said the children are members of a family who was infected by a man who traveled from an area with high rates of Ebola, sought treatment in Kampala, and died there.
“He is responsible for infecting the seven family members including neighbors and many others,” the statement said, referring to the patient who traveled injured. “We were able to find this group and another because of the ministry’s follow-up in tracing contacts and dealing with field cases,” he added.
The agency said that the authorities were “following up” about 170 contacts from the schools attended by the six children.
Fears of Ebola spreading beyond the epicenter of the outbreak prompted authorities to impose curfews in two of the five counties that reported cases of the disease on October 16. The measures were implemented after a man infected with Ebola traveled to Kampala and died in the capital, becoming the city’s first confirmed case of the disease.
Contact tracing is key to slowing the spread of infectious diseases such as Ebola.
The Ebola virus, which manifests itself as a viral hemorrhagic fever, has infected 109 people and killed 30 since September 20, when the outbreak was declared several days after the outbreak began in a rural community in central Uganda.
There is no proven vaccine for the Sudanese strain of Ebola currently circulating in Uganda, the East African country of 45 million people.
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