Democratic Republic of Congo Confirms New Ebola Cases

Health officials have confirmed that at least two people have been infected in a new outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Two out of five samples collected tested positive for a Zaire strain of Ebola. There has been 21 suspected cases in total in the past five weeks.

The Congo Health Ministry said, “Our country is facing another epidemic of the Ebola virus, which constitutes an international public health emergency.” The new outbreak is believed to be occurring in the town of Bikoro in the northwestern part of the African nation. Neighboring countries have been alerted about the new outbreak.

At least 17 people are feared to have died from the virus in the new outbreak. All of the deaths occurred before the outbreak was confirmed. No deaths have been reported among those hospitalized or among health workers treating the ill.

The World Health Organization (WHO), Médecins Sans Frontières, and Provincial Division of Health have traveled to Bikoro in an effort to stem the outbreak. The WHO has also released $1 million from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies to support response activities for the next three months

Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever, is considered one of the most lethal pathogens in existence. Around 50 per cent of patients die, according to the WHO. There is no specific treatment for Ebola. A new experimental vaccine has been shown to be highly effective against the virus, though quantities are currently limited.

Scientists believe Ebola is most transmitted to people from wild animals like fruit bats, antelope, porcupines, gorillas, and chimpanzees. Without preventive measures, the virus can spread quickly between people through blood, other bodily fluids, and surfaces that have been infected.

An Ebola pandemic quickly decimated West Africa between 2014 and 2016. The virus killed at least 11,000 people across six countries, including a single fatality in the U.S. The international response to that crisis was criticised for moving too slowly, prompting an apology from the WHO.

This is DRC’s ninth outbreak of Ebola since the discovery of the virus in the country in 1976. The country was struck by a smaller outbreak last year. That outbreak lasted just 42 days and four DRC residents died from the virus.

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