The Democratic Republic of Congo announced two confirmed cases of Ebola in the northwestern town of Bikoro and that there are 10 more suspected cases of the virus. This comes less than a year since the country's last Ebola outbreak.
During the last Ebola outbreak, four people died of the virus.
New Ebola Outbreak
The findings were presented by Jean Jack Muyembe, head of the national institute for biological research. In the announcement, Muyembe said that there are at least ten cases suspected meaning that there could be cases announced later. This is DRC's ninth Ebola outbreak since the virus was discovered.
DRC's last Ebola outbreak ended in July 2017, this was 42 days after the last reported case of Ebola was confirmed. Eight people were confirmed to have contracted the virus, it proved too deadly for four of the patients. This was the eighth Ebola outbreak that the country has experienced since 1976.
Prior to the 2017 outbreak, DRC faced a 2014 outbreak in which almost 50 people died. During the same time, an Ebola outbreak hit West Africa which killed over 11,300 people and infected 28,600 people. It most harshly affected the countries of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
Rapid Response To Ebola
Rapidly responding to Ebola is key to stopping the outbreak before it gets out of control. One of the reasons for the size of the 2014 outbreak was the slow response of the World Health Organization for which it was criticized. A report was released by Harvard Global Health Institute and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine which said that the speed of the response and lack of reliability led to human suffering and chaos.
In response to the 2017 outbreak, DRC quickly alerted local authorities, began blood testing, announced the outbreak early on, and authorities responded quickly.
Scientists believe that bats are responsible for the spread of the virus over long distances. Bats are able to host Ebola virus without risk of death. This would make it easier to pass on to other animals that live in trees.
Ebola is spread between humans in a variety of different ways. It can be spread through direct contact with another person's blood or body fluids which includes urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, and semen, objects that have come in contact with body fluids from an infected person, infected fruit bats and primates, and possibly contact with semen from a man who recovered from Ebola.