On Saturday, health authorities of the Democratic Republic of Congo reported a new outbreak of the Ebola virus. The patient was admitted to an Ebola treatment center for intensive care on Thursday 21 April but unfortunately died later that day.
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According to the WHO, authorities ran the Ebola test as he was showing the symptoms of the disease. The deceased had been under care at home for a week before being admitted to the treatment center.
“Time is not on our side,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “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”, he added.
Health authorities of the DRC are trying to identify contacts to monitor their health and disinfected the health facility where the patient was treated.
Plans to kick off vaccination have been scheduled in the coming days, as stockpiles of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine are already available in the cities of Goma and Kinshasa.
“Vaccines will be sent to Mbandaka and administered through ‘ring vaccination strategy—where contacts and contacts of contacts are vaccinated to curb the spread of the virus and protect lives”, WHO highlighted.
“Many people in Mbandaka are already vaccinated against Ebola, which should help reduce the impact of the disease,” added Dr. Moeti. “All those who were vaccinated during the 2020 outbreak will be revaccinated.”
There have been fourteenth Ebola outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo since 1976. The new outbreak is the sixth one since 2018 – the most frequent occurrence in the country’s Ebola history, according to the UN health agency.
Previous outbreaks in Equateur Province were in 2020 and 2018, with 130 and 54 recorded cases respectively. At this time, only one case has been confirmed and investigations to determine the source of the outbreak are ongoing.
Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness affecting humans and other primates. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.