The government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo announced a new Ebola outbreak. At least two people have been infected and as many as 17 have died from the disease spreading in the country’s northwest region.
Congo’s health ministry said in a statement,
Our country is facing another epidemic of the Ebola virus, which constitutes an international public health emergency.
The ministry added that five samples were sent to the National Institute of Biological Research in Kinshasa, and two came back positive for the Zaire strain of Ebola in the nation’s Equateur Province, NPR reports.
Local health officials had already reported 21 patients who had signs of hemorrhagic fever before the outbreak was confirmed. Seventeen of the patients have died.
Since Ebola is just one kind of hemorrhagic fever, it is still not clear if all of the victims died from Ebola, or other diseases. The health ministry said, “Since notification of the cases on 3 May, no deaths have been reported either among the [hospitalized] cases or the healthcare personnel.”
Medical teams from the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders collected five samples from active cases. Reuters said, “Ebola is believed to be spread over long distances by bats, which can host the virus without dying, as they infect other animals with which they share trees, such as monkeys. Ebola often spreads to humans via infected bushmeat.”
In 2014, an Ebola epidemic in West Africa infected around 28,600 people and killed over 11,300 before the WHO could declare the region Ebola-free. It took two years to combat the disease, which was concentrated in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
A vaccine called rVSV-ZEBOV has been developed to keep Ebola from spreading, as the infection has a very high mortality rate. In recent years, outbreaks have been more isolated, including one in Congo last year that killed four out of eight infected patients.