Published: Sat, August 04, 2018
Medicine | By Brett Sutton

New Ebola outbreak in Congo, health ministry says

New Ebola outbreak in Congo, health ministry says

The DRC's health ministry said on Monday that it had found 25 cases of haemorrhagic fever near the town of Beni and that samples had been sent to the capital, Kinshasa, for testing.

"As Ebola Virus Disease is endemic in several parts of the country due to the equatorial forest ecosystem, the Ministry of Health has already strengthened its epidemiological surveillance system in all risk areas, including North Kivu", the ministry said in a statement.

Officials said it was not yet clear whether the two Congo outbreaks separated by more than 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles) are linked.

DRC has successfully contained and closed down nine Ebola outbreaks in the past decade.

Worldwide health experts have arrived in the region.

But the Merck vaccine is created to be used against the Zaire strain of Ebola, and there has been no confirmation of the strain in the latest outbreak, with the World Health Organization calling it only "presumptive Ebola".

The four confirmed cases of the deadly haemorrhagic disease come days after the Democratic Republic of Congo declared an end to the Ebola outbreak in the northeast. These cases follow a July 28 report of 26 cases (including 20 deaths) with indications of hemorrhagic fever.

In Geneva, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said it still had staff and equipment in place in DR Congo after dealing with the May-July outbreak, and this would give it a "head-start".

Jeremy Konyndyk, an aid expert at the Center for Global Development, said other recent Ebola outbreaks had fortunately been in relatively safe and stable areas. "What adds to our confidence in the country's ability to respond is the transparency they have displayed once again". "This is an active conflict zone".

"This new cluster is occurring in an environment, which is very different from where we were operating in the north-west, " said Dr Peter Salama, Deputy Director-General of the Emergency Preparedness and Response team at WHO.

He says identifying the type of Ebola virus that is circulating is a priority, as that will tell scientists whether the vaccine used to help contain the outbreak in Equateur province can also be used in North Kivu.

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