Health Care

Deadly Ebola Outbreak Confirmed in Eastern DRC

Deadly Ebola Outbreak Confirmed in Eastern DRC

The response to the presumptive positive outbreak of Ebola in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) will be "highly complex", according to a senior public health expert at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Four cases of the disease were positively confirmed in the country's North Kivu province and more are anticipated, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the country's health minister, said.

Four of six samples sent for analysis to the National Institute of Biological Research in Kinshasa, the capital, came back positive for Ebola, the ministry said.

They said the fact that they had caught the virus so early showed that preparations for combatting the deadly disease had been effective. Another 20 people died from unidentified haemorrhagic fevers in the area, mostly in the second half of July.

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The latest outbreak is the 10th in the DRC since 1976, when it was discovered in the north of the country, then called Zaire, and named after a river nearby.

The last outbreak of this fatal virus in Congo was declared over just a week ago.

Congolese and global health officials deployed an experimental vaccine that helped contain its spread after it reached a large rivr port city.

The World Health Organisation has started moving staff and supplies into the area.

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"This new cluster is occurring in an environment which is very different from where we were operating in the northwest", said Peter Salama, MD, WHO Deputy Director-General, Emergency Preparedness and Response. "The major barrier will be safely accessing the affected population".

The ministry says there is no indication the two epidemics separated by more than 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles) are related.

"Ebola virus confirmed in North Kivu", Paluku wrote on Twitter.

It has a natural reservoir in a species of tropical African fruit bats, from which it is believed to leap to humans who kill and butcher the animals for food. It spreads through contact with bodily fluids of those infected, including the dead. Over 11,300 people died of an epidemic in West Africa from 2013 to 2016.

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