World Health Organization says latest Ebola outbreak in DR Congo is Zaire strain


Just a week after being declared Ebola-free, the Democratic Republic of Congo said yesterday that a new outbreak of the deadly virus has killed at least 20 people.

The WHO says the same expert team that led the the vaccination program during a recent Ebola outbreak in Congo's Equateur province will be deployed to the cities of Beni and Mangina in North Kivu province, where Ebola was detected last week.

Officials hailed the use of an experimental vaccine called as rVSV-ZEBOV in stemming the Ebola outbreak in northwestern Congo in July.

The North Kivu Provincial Health Division notified the government of Congo that a couple of cases of haemorrhagic fevers were reported. Although the massive refugee population makes identification, isolation, and treatment more hard, the country's health ministry announced that 879 people who have had contact with Ebola patients have so far been identified.

That outbreak more than 2,500 kilometres away had 33 confirmed Ebola deaths.

North Kivu is located in the Eastern province of DRC that borders Uganda in the Western side. Investigations are ongoing, but as of August 3, a total of 43 Ebola virus cases, including 33 deaths, have been reported, and another 33 suspected cases are pending lab testing.

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Three healthcare workers have been affected, including two who died, the World Health Organization said.

A further five probable cases have been noted in Ituri Province - which also borders Uganda and shares a crossing with South Sudan.

"Since we are coming out of another Ebola outbreak, we have kept staff and equipment in place", Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa, said.

Despite that Ebola is never an easy illness to combat, the current outbreak is much more hard than previous ones primarily because of the location in which it appeared.

There was a concern it would spread to Kinshasa - 364 miles (586km) south on the river, which has an worldwide airport and 12 million people residents.