June 13 (UPI) -- Uganda has confirmed three cases of the Ebola virus, which has now killed two people -- signaling that the outbreak officials have struggled to contain is spreading.
The World Health Organization and Uganda Ministry of Health said Wednesday a 5-year-old Congolese boy infected with the disease had died. Thursday, a Ugandan health ministry official said the boy's 50-year-old grandmother also succumbed to the disease.
"Blood samples were drawn and sent for testing at the Uganda Virus Research Institute and both samples tested positive for Ebola," the ministry said, adding that it's looking for eight others who've been exposed.
Uganda health minister Jane Ruth Aceng met with Congolese, U.S. and WHO officials and they agreed to strengthen surveillance, continue sharing information, begin vaccinations and repatriate to the DRC the remaining six family members who crossed into Uganda this week.
Health workers have been fighting to contain the disease in the Congo since the outbreak began in August. As of Tuesday, officials said the nation has recorded 1,990 confirmed cases and 1,405 deaths. The DRC said it has vaccinated more than 4,500 people.
Uganda officials told the public Wednesday the vaccine is "very safe and effective" and those who have been exposed should be inoculated "for their own and family protection."
Officials at a border post between Kenya and Tanzania have started a disease outbreak situation to increase preparedness in case of an emergency, the WHO said. East African Community Secretary General Christophe Bazivamo said it's a timely exercise, given the current situation.
"We need to continually test or system and ensure strengthened capacity," he said.