Fresh Ebola outbreak hits DR Congo

Marsha Scott
May 9, 2018

Two cases of the Ebola virus disease have been confirmed by a lab report in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to a source from the Ministry of Health on Tuesday.

DRC health officials stated that 21 people so far have shown symptoms of the virus and that this outbreak is a "public health emergency with global impact", AFP reports.

It is the ninth time Ebola has been recorded in the DRC, whose eastern Ebola river gave the deadly virus its name when it was discovered there in the 1970s.

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In the past five weeks, there have been 21 suspected viral haemorrhagic fever in and around the iIkoko Iponge, including 17 deaths.

It is caused by a virus that has a natural reservoir in the bat, which does not itself fall ill, but can pass the microbe on to humans who hunt it for "bushmeat". The town is roughly 40 miles from the Republic of Congo border.

Experts from the World Health Organization, the charity Médecins Sans Frontières and local health authorities have travelled to the affected area, Bikoro in the north west of the country, to co-ordinate the response.

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The WHO Regional Director for African, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, said, "We know that addressing this outbreak will require a comprehensive and coordinated response".

The WHO described the outbreak as "a public health crisis of global importance".

Many health facilities in the region rely on worldwide assistance for both services and supplies.

The WHO released $1 million from its contingency fund to try and control the outbreak, using lessons it learned in stamping out another bout of Ebola in Congo in 2017. Officials from the DRC say they have been able to contain the outbreak relatively quickly.

The WHO said in the coming days it will deploy epidemiologists, logisticians, clinicians, infection prevention and control experts, risk communication specialists, and vaccination support teams.

An effective response to the 2017 EVD outbreak was achieved through the timely alert by local authorities of suspect cases, immediate testing of blood samples due to strengthened national laboratory capacity, the early announcement of the outbreak by the government, rapid response activities by local and national health authorities with the robust support of worldwide partners, and speedy access to flexible funding.

The global health organisation said it released US$1 million (NZ$1.4 million) from an emergency fund and deployed more than 50 experts to work with officials in the country.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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