DRC: New Ebola virus outbreak days after previous epidemic ends

Frederick Owens
August 5, 2018

A total of 29 persons died during the most recent outbreak, which was declared over, when two weeks had passed without a new case emerging, following the release of the last patient from care.

Congo's health ministry on Wednesday announced four Ebola cases in Mangina village, about 30 kilometers from Beni city. These cases follow a July 28 report of 26 cases (including 20 deaths) with indications of hemorrhagic fever.

Julien Paluku, governor of North Kivu province, announced the outbreak on Twitter, just a week after Congolese and United Nations health officials announced the end of a separate outbreak that killed 33 people in the country's northwest.

Experts from the health ministry will arrive in the region on Thursday to coordinate a response to the virus, the ministry said. "It's sad", says Yap Boum, a microbiologist based in Yaoundé who works with Doctors Without Borders, a nongovernmental organization that helped run an Ebola vaccine campaign against the previous outbreak.

Four of six samples sent for analysis to the National Institute of Biological Research in Kinshasa, the capital, came back positive for Ebola, the ministry said.

Preliminary laboratory results have confirmed a new cluster of cases in the Mangina area near Beni, a densely populated town, about 2,500 km from the last flare-up.

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Congo has had 10 outbreaks of ebola since it was first discovered there in 1976. "It is, on the other hand, worrying that this area is a conflict zone.It is an area with lots of displacement, so the access can be hampered in that way". Once present in humans, it causes haemorrhagic fever, vomiting and diarrhoea and is spread through direct contact with body fluids.

None of Congo's outbreaks were connected to the massive one in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone that began in 2014 and left more than 11,300 dead.

North Kivu hosts over 1 million displaced people.

The province shares a border with Rwanda and Uganda, and cross-border movement is common.

Jose Barahona, Oxfam country director for the DRC, said the outbreak presented a serious risk to communities in Beni, where thousands of people are already facing hardship.

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