Fresh Ebola outbreak hits DR Congo

The last Ebola outbreak in the DR Congo was in 2017 and killed four people. /AGENCIES

The last Ebola outbreak in the DR Congo was in 2017 and killed four people. /AGENCIES

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".

Congo's health ministry has confirmed two cases of Ebola in this central African country, a resurgence almost 10 months after the end of an earlier outbreak. Ebola is fatal in about 50 per cent of cases.

This is the ninth outbreak of the disease in the country since 1976, according to WHO. There have been 21 cases and 17 deaths in the past five weeks, according to WHO. The last was a year ago, with eight people infected and four fatalities.

The Ministry of health of DR Congo has confirmed two cases of Ebola, reports AP.

"Working with partners and responding early and in a co-ordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease".

Bikoro is situated on the shores of Lake Tumba near the border with the Republic of the Congo.

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"WHO is closely working with other partners, including MSF, to ensure a strong response to support the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to prevent and control the spreading of the disease from the epicentre", said Dr Allarangar Yokouide, WHO's representative in Congo.

"We know that addressing this outbreak will require a comprehensive and coordinated response". The cases were reported from Ilkoko Iponge health facility, about 18 miles from the town of Bikoro (see Google map below), which has very limited health facilities and few supplies.

"We are going to collect extra samples, conduct contact tracing, have interaction the communities with messages on prevention and management, and put in place strategies for enhancing knowledge assortment and sharing", stated Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa.

Peter Salama, MBBS, MPH, WHO deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, said in the statement that the top priority is to get to Bikoro to work with the DRC government and its partners to reduce deaths and illnesses related to the new Ebola outbreak. World Health Organization will also be determining supply needs and help fill gaps, such as for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Further downstream the river flows past Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa and Brazzaville, capital of neighbouring Congo Republic - two cities with a combined population of over 12 million people.

The experts took five samples in Bikoro in the North-West of the country for laboratory analysis at the National Institute of biological studies.

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