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Ebola resurfacs in DR Congo, WHO supports authorities

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says Ebola has resurfaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) following confirmation of a case in the restive eastern province of North Kivu.

Matshidiso Moeti
Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa

WHO, in a statement on Tuesday, August 23, 2022, cited authorities in the country that the case concerned a 46-year-old woman who died on Aug.15 in the town of Beni.

She had received care at the Beni Referral Hospital, initially for other ailments, but subsequently exhibited symptoms consistent with Ebola.

Virus samples were taken from the patient and the diagnosis was confirmed by two branches of the country’s National Institute of Biomedical Research, located in Beni and Goma, the provincial capital.

Analysis showed that the case was genetically linked to the 2018-2020 Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, the country’s longest and largest.

“Ebola resurgences are occurring with greater frequency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is concerning.

“However, health authorities in North Kivu have successfully stopped several Ebola flare-ups, and building on this expertise will no doubt bring this one under control quickly,” Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said.

Staff from the UN agency and Congolese health authorities are working to halt the spread of the disease.

They have identified 160 contacts whose health is being closely monitored, while investigations are ongoing to determine the vaccination status of the confirmed case.

Currently, 1,000 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine are available in the country’s stockpile, and 200 doses will be sent to Beni this week.

WHO said “ring-vaccination” – where contacts, as well as contacts of contacts, are vaccinated to curb virus spread and protect lives – is expected to begin shortly.

The last Ebola flare-up in the Beni health zone was brought under control in about two months, ending on Dec. 16, 2021.

Overall, 11 cases were recorded – eight confirmed and three probable – including six deaths.

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