The World Health Organisation reported that the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has declared the outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever, a rare and deadly disease, this week.
Laboratory results confirmed two cases of the disease in the province of Bikoro in the northwestern part of the country. The test were run at a small health facility about 30 kilometers from the town. Bikoro is situated on the shores of Lake Tumba near the border with the Republic of the Congo. The outbreak was caused by one of five Ebola viruses.
Neighbouring countries have been alerted and an Incident Management System has been set up in response. A government statement released this week stated that the Ministry of Health has “taken all necessary measures to respond promptly and effectively to this new epidemic of Ebola in the DRC’s national territory”.
Sky News learned that at least 10 others have been infected – including staff members at the hospital in Bikoro. Congo’s health minister meanwhile announced that one of the 10 had died on Thursday.
“We will gather more samples, conduct contact tracing, engage the communities with messages on prevention and control, and put in place methods for improving data collection and sharing,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa. “WHO will work closely with health authorities and partners to support the national response.”
This is its ninth outbreak of Ebola virus disease since the discovery of the virus in the country in 1976. The last outbreak, was in 2017. The average case fatality rate for Ebola hemorrhagic fever is around 60 to 90 percent, and the deadly virus most commonly affects humans and nonhuman primates – monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees alike.
FreeWestMedia noted last year: “Bushmeat was believed to be at the origin of the former devastating West African Ebola outbreak. The first victim’s family ate bats, which carry the virus. The meat of wild animals is popular in Africa, including eating chimpanzees, fruit bats and rats. ”
According to a WHO official there is serious cause for concern since several cases of Ebola were first documented in December, implying that the virus has already had five months to spread.
Medecins Sans Frontier (MSF) officials told Sky that aggressive measures were called for to check its advance and they were “urgently assessing the situation”. There is no cure for the disease.
The world’s worst Ebola outbreak took the lives of 11 000 people in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia in 2014 after the virus spread from a small village in rural Guinea.