DRC confirms new Ebola cluster days after outbreak declared over

Today the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) said four people in the Eastern part of the country tested positive for Ebola virus, 1 week after the country declared an 11-week outbreak in the Western region over.

The DRC said there was no evidence to suggest the new outbreak was connected to the previous event, which resulted in 54 confirmed illnesses, 33 of them fatal.

Mobile lab team dispatched to outbreak site

Oly Ilunga, MD, of the DRC's health minister, took to Twitter today to announce the cases, which are centered around Beni in the Magina health district. He said a mobile team of 12 will be arriving in Beni tomorrow to set up a laboratory.

"We knew a #10 Ebola outbreak was inevitable because of the presence of the virus in the Equitoreal Forest but we did not know it woudl happen so quickly," a tweet from Ilunga said. The original tweet was in French.

"Ebola is a constant threat in the DRC," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general, in a statement sent to media. "What adds to our confidence in the country's ability to respond is the transparency they have displayed once again. Working closely with the Ministry of Health and partners, we will fight this one as we did the last."

At least 20 dead reported in conflict zone

According to a statement from the ministry of health, of 26 people with hemorrhagic illness signs, 20 people have died in an area 100 kilometers from the border with Uganda.  The province, known as North Kivu, is a conflict zone and is home to 1 million displaced people.

"This new cluster is occurring in an environment which is very different from where we were operating in the northwest," said Peter Salama, MD, WHO deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response. "This is an active conflict zone. The major barrier will be safely accessing the affected population."

According to an African media report on Monday, the outbreak began in early July, and symptoms included fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and nose bleeds. The DRC said 26 people have reported illnesses.

See also:

Aug 1 DRC health ministry statement

Aug 1 WHO press release

Jul 31 CIDRAP News scan

Oly Ilunga Twitter feed

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