A new Ebola virus outbreak has resurfaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo as the WHO confirmed two cases as of May 8.
The outbreak declaration was made in Bikoro in Equateur Province after two out of five patients tested positive at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale, according to the country's Ministry of Health.
The cases were reported from iIkoko Iponge, which is located about 30 kilometers from Bikoro. Authorities said more specimens are being collected for testing.
"Our top priority is to get to Bikoro to work alongside the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and partners to reduce the loss of life and suffering related to this new Ebola virus disease outbreak," said Dr. Peter Salama, WHO deputy director-general, Emergency Preparedness and Response. "Working with partners and responding early and in a coordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease."
This is the ninth since the disease was discovered in the country in 1976. The government of DRC, together with WHO and other partners such as Médecins Sans Frontières, is building up from their emergency response during the Ebola outbreak in 2017.
A 24-hour response setup was established upon reports of the outbreak from Likati Health Zone in Bas Uele Province. Affected persons were immediately contained, and blood sample tests were carried out through the joint efforts of local authorities and international agencies.
What Makes Ebola Dangerous?
Ebola virus causes a rare and fatal disease that affects humans and primates such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees. The virus is endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since the first outbreak, the virus has spread to other neighboring African countries and beyond.
From 2014 to 2016, WHO reported 28,616 suspected, probable, and confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease, with 11,310 deaths in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
From the onset, its symptoms include sudden fever, intense weakness and muscle pain, and sore throat. As the disease progresses, the patient will experience vomiting, diarrhea, and internal or external bleeding.
Although Ebola virus is endemic to West Africa, the disease can be transmitted to other countries through intercontinental travel. In October 2014, a nurse in Spain contracted the virus after treating two missionaries who eventually died of Ebola.
Ebola virus is highly contagious, and infected persons should be quarantined. A deceased person who died due to Ebola virus disease may still be contagious.
"This can occur when a person touches the infected body fluids (or objects that are contaminated with them), and the virus gets in through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth," CDC wrote on its website.
This is why contracting the virus is common in places where rituals require direct physical contact. Those who survived Ebola outbreaks may have a difficult recovery as symptoms such as tiredness, vision problems, muscle aches, and stomach pain.