A brand new Ebola outbreak has been declared in the African country of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Just one week after the most recent Ebola outbreak in the DRC was declared over, the country has confirmed it has found more cases of the infectious disease.
The new cases are in a province at the opposite end of the country from the earlier outbreak, according to Scientific American. The location of the outbreak is making it unclear if this is a new epidemic or a continuation of the previous one. A statement from the ministry of health on Wednesday said that since the distance between the two outbreaks was more than 1,500 miles, the cases are not likely linked to the previous outbreak in Bikoro.
“It’s unlikely to be connected to the previous outbreak,” Jessica Ilunga, a spokeswoman for Health Minister Oly Ilunga, told Scientific American. The new cases have occurred in North Kivu province, which is located in northeastern DRC, along the border with Uganda and Rwanda. Last weekend, the country’s health ministry reported that there had been 26 people sick with fever and “hemorrhagic signs” at a place called Mangina. Of those, 20 had died.
It is also still unclear which particular species of the Ebola virus is responsible for this newest outbreak. Four people have tested positive for the virus, of which there are six separate species that could be responsible. Most outbreaks in DRC have been caused by the Ebola Zaire virus. Testing is underway to determine the national laboratory in Kinshasa to determine the species causing the outbreak, said Ilunga.
A team of 12 experts from Kinshasa will arrive in the outbreak area on Thursday to set up the needed components of the response, the health ministry’s statement said. The team will include laboratory technicians, epidemiologists, clinical psychologists, and doctors, and will be equipped with a mobile laboratory and personal protective equipment.
The previous outbreak in Bikoro was of concern simply because of the proximity to the Congo river and the virus’ ability to travel far. That outbreak also saw health officials employing the use of an experimental vaccine.
Ebola hemorrhagic fever, seen mostly only in Africa, is one of the world’s most feared diseases. It begins with flu-like symptoms, followed by bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Days later, some victims begin bleeding through the nose, mouth, and eyes. Depending on the strain/species of the Ebola virus, it can kill up to 90% of victims. There is no cure for Ebola. The virus is spread through direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person.
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