Two cases of Ebola confirmed in Democratic Republic of Congo


The Ebola deadly virus, that raged in some West African countries several years ago has made a rerurn in the northwest part of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), killing 17 people.

Congo's health ministry is collecting more specimens for testing.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak recorded in the Congo since 1976, when the disease was discovered there.

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During the last Ebola outbreak, four people died of the virus.

Medical teams dispatched to the zone took five samples from suspected active cases and two tested positive for the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus, the country's health ministry said in a statement.

NAN reports that in the 2014 to 2015 outbreak, 11,000 people died, mainly in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia.

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While so far the outbreak is contained to a small village named Ikoko Impenge, near the town of Bikoro, officials worry that because of the village's close proximity to the Congo River, the disease may still spread.

"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.

It is well practiced in fighting the deadly virus.

"We still dispose of the well trained human resources that were able to rapidly control previous epidemics", it said.

A team of WHO experts - alongside regional health officials and staff from global medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) - are travelling to Bikoro as part of a coordinated medical response.

The virus' natural reservoir animal is probably the bat, which does not itself fall ill, but can pass the microbe on to humans who hunt it for food. 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.