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The Ebola Virus Is Back In Congo

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Two more suspected cases of the Ebola virus have been identified in the Democratic Republic of Congo, just one day after the local government confirmed an outbreak.

Health experts from the World Health Organization and Congo’s government traveled to a remote area in Bas-Uele province, near the border of the Central African Republic on Saturday to conduct a field investigation, Business Insider reports.

In order to prevent the virus from spreading any further, officials must quickly track down, test, isolate and treat any suspected cases. It is imperative to protect health workers and educate the public on hygiene measures, as well, WHO says.

A statement from the UN agency reads,

The first case and possibly the index case, a 39-year-old male, presented onset of symptoms on 22 April, 2017, and deceased on arrival at the health facility.

It adds, “Two contacts of this case are being investigated: a person who took care of him during transport to the health care facility, he has since developed similar symptoms, and a moto-taxi driver who transported the patient to the health care facility.” It was the taxi driver who passed away.

In addition, two more people were identified as bearing symptoms in the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of suspected cases to 11. Three of the victims have died of fever.

The worst Ebola outbreak was in 2014, when the virus infected more than 28,000 and killed over 11,300 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It caused widespread alarm, but the active virus transmission was said to have ended last year.

This is Congo’s eight Ebola outbreak on record. The virus was first detected in the country’s tropical forests in 1976, and was named after the river Ebola.

The GAVI global vaccine alliance announced that some 300,000 emergency doses of an Ebola vaccine produced by pharmaceutical company Merck would be available in case the outbreak spreads, and that the group is ready to give the Congo government its support.

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