The Minister of Public Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of another Ebola virus outbreak in northern DRC. WHO has already deployed an investigation team to the affected area.
Latest Ebola Outbreak
WHO was informed of the latest Ebola outbreak in DRC on Friday, May 12, courtesy of DRC’s Minister of Public Health, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga. The said outbreak affects the Nambwa health district in the province of Bas-Uélé.
Starting from April 22, nine suspected Ebola cases have been reported, including three deaths and the six other still hospitalized. WHO was informed of the suspicious cases, which were confirmed on May 11, when National Biomedical Research Institute informed authorities that one out of five blood samples returned positive for Ebola.
As of May 11, the fatality rate for this outbreak is at 33.3 percent.
WHO was quick to respond to the outbreak as they are currently working hand in hand with the local authorities to prevent the further spread of the disease. An investigative team with epidemiologists, biologists, and other experts have already been deployed to the region.
“The WHO Country Office in the DRC is working closely with the national and provincial authorities and with the WHO Regional Office for Africa, WHO headquarters in Geneva and all other partners to facilitate deployment of health workers and protective kits in the field to strengthen epidemiological surveillance and rapidly control the outbreak,” said Dr. Yokouidé Allarangar, DRC’s WHO representative.
Eighth Ebola Outbreak
The current outbreak, despite being described as a small one, is DRC’s eighth Ebola outbreak since 1976, when Ebola took 280 lives from the country. The last outbreak before the current one was between August and November in 2014, claiming 49 lives.
Previously known as the Ebola haemorrhagic fever, Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a deadly and rare disease that is caused by one of five different strains of the Ebola virus: Zaire ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, Tai Forest ebolavirus, Bundibugyo ebolavirus, and Reston virus. Among these, Reston is the only one not yet known to affect humans.
The disease was first recorded in 1976 near the Ebola River, in a place that is now DRC. Various places in Africa have since sporadically experienced Ebola clusters and outbreaks.
Though the host of the Ebola virus is still unknown, some experts believe that perhaps the virus is animal-borne, and that the likeliest hosts are bats.
The virus cannot be transmitted through air, water, or through casual contact with an infected person. Further, a person with Ebola is only contagious after symptoms begin to show. Though an Ebola vaccine has been successfully administered in Guinea, it only works on one Ebola subtype, and people also reported adverse side effects to the vaccine.