Published: Sun, August 05, 2018
Health Care | By Oscar Goodwin

Four new cases of ebola surface in Congo

Four new cases of ebola surface in Congo

Authorities have warned that the new outbreak, declared a week after another Ebola outbreak in Congo's northwest was declared over, poses a "highly complex" challenge with multiple armed groups active in the mineral-rich region and with Beni and a well-traveled border with Uganda and Rwanda nearby.

The North Kivu health division notified Congo's health ministry on Saturday of 26 cases of hemorrhagic fever, including 20 deaths in North Kivu province, the ministry said. Another six who are still living are showing signs of fever, of which four tested positive.

The World Health Organisation has mobilised an emergency response team after the Congolese government confirmed that Ebola had struck North Kivu province, an eastern region notorious for its instability.

They said the fact that they had caught the virus so early showed that preparations for combatting the deadly disease had been effective.

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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.

"Although we did not expect to face a tenth epidemic so early, the detection of the virus is an indicator of the proper functioning of the surveillance system".

This is the DRC's 10th outbreak of Ebola since 1976, when the virus was discovered near the eponymous river in the north.

"We really need to get into the area to do epidemiological investigations, try to find cases, try to work with health workers, to strengthen infection prevention and control measures and also to start with the contact tracing", he said.

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Congolese and worldwide health officials were credited with responding rapidly to the last outbreak, including by deploying an experimental vaccine manufactured by Merck. "The major barrier will be safely accessing the affected population".

The majority of the cases are in the Mangina health area which is 30 kilometres from the city of Beni.

The government confirmed to the World Health Organization on Wednesday that four out of six samples tested for Ebola virus at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale in Kinshasa returned a positive result. It often spreads to humans via infected bush meat.

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.

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