The Ebola virus disease is spreading in the Democratic Republic of Congo at its fastest rate yet according to the World Health Organization.
At least 72 new Ebola cases were confirmed last week by the WHO.
Since the Ebola outbreak was declared in Congo in August 2018, the number of confirmed cases has reached 1,023 as of March 31. The most affected areas are the North Kivu and Ituri provinces.
"This outbreak has gone on far too long. We owe it to the people of North Kivu to work with them in solidarity not only to end this outbreak as soon as possible, but to build the health systems that address the many other health threats they face on a daily basis," according to Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.
Fastest Rate Of Outbreak
Less than three weeks ago, WHO stated that the Ebola outbreak was largely contained and could be stopped by September this year. The number of weekly cases then halved to about 25 compared to 50 cases each week recorded in late January and mid-November.
However, the number of cases registered a record 57 the following week and then increased to 72 last week. This marked a setback in efforts to respond to the outbreak.
"People are becoming infected without access to response measures," said Christian Lindmeier, WHO spokesman.
The current outbreak is believed to have killed 676 people and infected 406 others. Some 331 patients have recovered.
Fatal Ebola Virus
Ebola virus disease, also formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe illness in humans.
According to a WHO fact sheet, five species of Ebolavirus have been identified so far: the Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Reston, and Tai Forest. The first three virus species have been associated with large outbreaks in Africa.
Ebola first appeared in 1976 in South Sudan and in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The outbreaks then started in remote villages near tropical rainforests. The first outbreak in Congo occurred in a village near the Ebola River where the disease derived its name.
The virus is transmitted from wild animals to humans and often leads to death if left untreated. Fruit bats are said to be natural hosts of Ebola.
This contagious disease spreads to the human population via human-to-human transmission through direct contact with blood, secretions, organs, and bodily fluids. Contact with materials and surfaces contaminated with bodily fluids and secretions of a person infected with Ebola can also transmit the virus.
The 2014 to 2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa caused by the Zaire ebolavirus species has spread even to major urban areas.