Ebola Outbreak Declared In The Democratic Republic Of The Congo

An Ebola outbreak has officially been declared in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), in a north-western province located in Mbandaka on Saturday that has killed two people.

The World Health Organization verified that a case of Ebola was confirmed in Mbandaka, which is located about 435 miles northeast of Kinshasa, the nation's capital. Mbandaka has a population of around 1.188 million as per a 2015 census.

According to the World Health Organization, this is the third outbreak in the province since 2018, though so far two cases, which include a 32-year-old man and his sister-in-law has been confirmed.

The man started showing symptoms on April 5th and had remained at home for the first week after symptoms began to show. After about a week he visited a local health facility seeking treatment.

On April 21st, the man was admitted to intensive care at an Ebola treatment center but then died later on the same day.

As the health workers immediately recognized the symptoms, they submitted samples to test for the Ebola virus. According to the World Health Organization, investigations to determine the source of the outbreak are ongoing.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa said, "Time is not on our side. The disease has had a two-week head start and we are now playing catch-up. The positive news is that health authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have more experience than anyone else in the world at controlling Ebola outbreaks quickly".

The Democratic Republic of Congo has had 14 Ebola outbreaks since 1976, and six outbreaks since 2018.

The body of the Ebola victim was handled with care so as to avoid the risk of contaminated body fluids coming into contact with anyone and given a proper burial. All who are known to have come into contact with the infected man are being located and monitored for symptoms and the health facility that treated the man has been since decontaminated.

On April 26th, the man's sister-in-law, a 25-year-old woman also died of Ebola according to the World Health Organization. She started showing symptoms around 12 days before she died.

Around 145 other people are known to have come into contact with the man and woman and all of the known contacts are currently being monitored for symptoms. Vaccines will be sent to Mbandaka and given through a 'ring vaccination' strategy that involves contacts, as well as contacts of contacts that are vaccinated to stop the spread of the virus and protect those who came into contact with the infected man.

Dr. Moeti stated, "Many people in Mbandaka are already vaccinated against Ebola, which should help reduce the impact of the disease. All those who were vaccinated during the 2020 outbreak will be re-vaccinated".

The WHO emergency director for Africa, Ibrahima Soce Fall said that there is a risk that the Ebola virus could spread to the Central African Republic and Congo Brazzaville.

"This is concerning but taking into account the capacity build-up and experience in Congo we believe it can be contained" he stated at a press conference in Geneva.

Ebola is often fatal, and has a case fatality rate of between 25% to 90% according to data gathered from previous outbreaks. Effective treatment is now available, and as long as patients receive treatment right away the chances of surviving the virus increase greatly.

Ebola is usually spread through infected primates, such as humans, bats, monkeys, apes, etc, or person to person through body fluids, such as blood, sweat, urine, semen, breast milk, and feces but it is not known to be spread through mosquito or flea bites.