12 May 2017

Congo-Kinshasa: Democratic Republic of the Congo Hit By Ebola Outbreak

Photo: Luis Encinas/MSF
Three people have died from a fever, one of them tested positive for the Ebola virus (file photo).

Two years after the virus killed dozens of people in the DRC, the UN health agency has confirmed a new deadly case. Its last outbreak coincided, but was unrelated to the West Africa pandemic from 2014 to 2016.

The Ebola virus has returned to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, more than two years since its last major outbreak, the World Health Organization announced on Friday.

Three people died from a fever, one of whom tested positive for the Ebola virus. Health authorities identified nine people who were suffering from a hemorrhagic fever in Bas-Uele province in the northeast of the country on or after April 22, the DRC Ministry of Public Health said in a statement.

"Our country must confront an outbreak of the Ebola virus that constitutes a public health crisis of international significance," the ministry said.

The WHO posted details of the case on Twitter, saying it had been notified by the DRC Ministry of Public Health.

The case "is in a very remote zone, very forested, so we are a little lucky. We always take this very seriously," WHO Congo spokesman Eric Kabambi told Reuters news agency.

In 2014 the DRC was hit by its seventh Ebola virus outbreak, unrelated to the concurrent outbreak in West Africa, killing 49 people. The West African Ebola virus epidemic killed more that 10,000 people between 2013 and 2016.

Ebola is a highly contagious hemorrhagic fever that can be transmitted from animals including bats and monkeys. The virus is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.

An experimental vaccine was recently developed that the WHO said could be used in emergencies. The GAVI global vaccine alliance said on Friday that 300,000 emergency doses of the vaccine were available in case of a large-scale outbreak.

aw/kms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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