The Ebola deadly virus, that raged in some West African countries several years ago has made a rerurn in the northwest part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), killing 17 people.
Congo’s health ministry on Tuesday described the fresh outbreak as a “public health emergency with international impact. Twenty-one cases of fever with haemorrhagic indications and 17 deaths” have been recorded in Equateur province, it said.
This is Congo’s ninth known outbreak of Ebola since 1976, when the deadly viral disease was first identified in then-Zaire by a Belgian-led team. In Geneva, the World Health Organization (WHO) said lab tests in the DRC confirmed the presence of Ebola virus in two out of five samples collected from patients. “WHO is working closely with the government of the DRC to rapidly scale up its operations and mobilize health partners, using the model of a successful response to a similar… outbreak in 2017,” it said in a statement.
It said it had released $1 million (840,000 euros) from an emergency contingency fund, set up a coordination group and deployed more than 50 experts to work with the DRC government and health agencies. All the cases were reported from a clinic at Ilkoko Iponge, located about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from Bikoro, where treatment capacities are limited, the WHO said.
A team of experts from the WHO, Doctors without Borders (DRC) and Equateur province travelled to Bikoro on Tuesday to beef up coordination and carry out investigations, it said.
The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to two neighbouring west African countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone. That outbreak killed more than 11,300 people out of nearly 29,000 registered cases, according to WHO estimates, although the real figure is thought to be significantly higher.
There is no current vaccine to prevent Ebola or licensed treatment for it, although a range of experimental drugs are in development. Early care with rehydration may boost the chance of survival.