Second Ebola case confirmed among 20 suspected in Congo

In an update on the Ebola virus disease situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), UN health officials report a 2nd of the five samples tested was positive for Ebola virus of the Zaire sub-type using a technique call polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Situated near the border with the Central African Republic, the northeastern province of Bas-Uele is relatively remote.

How the latest outbreak has developed is unclear, but previous ones have been blamed on civilians coming into contact with infected "bush meat" such as apes, says The Independent.

Congo has suffered seven previous outbreaks of Ebola since the virus was discovered in the country in 1976. As of today, 11 suspected cases including 3 deaths have been reported. Three people have died so far in the 19 suspected and confirmed cases, WHO Congo spokesman Eugene Kabambi said.

The Ebola virus disease is fatal in about 90 percent of cases.

Health officials from Congo, the United Nations and humanitarian groups were immediately sent to the north to respond to the outbreak.

The new cluster of Ebola cases will again test one of the world's least equipped health systems. Humans can be infected by other humans if they come in contact with body fluids from an infected person or contaminated objects from infected persons. More than 10,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in more than two years of war, which has also destroyed much of the country's infrastructure.

"At this stage, the overall risk is high at national level due to the known impact of Ebola outbreaks, remoteness of the affected area, limited access to health care and suboptimal surveillance", they reported. That outbreak- which ended in early 2016 as Liberia was declared free of active transmission-was the first in West Africa, while Congo has experience of fighting the virus over decades. The last outbreak occurred in August 2014, resulting 66 cases and 49 deaths. The outbreak was confirmed and the World Health Organization dispatched Africa regional director Matshidiso Moeti to support the Congolese government.

An outbreak that began in August 2014 in West Africa ranked as the most devastating ever, killing more than 11,000 people.

He said that Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Christos Stylianides, who is the EU Ebola coordinator, together with colleague Vytenis Andriukaitis, responsible for health, were closely following the developments, and that the Commission's Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC) was taking preparatory measures.

  • Santos West