Democratic Republic Of Congo Confirm 17 People Dead In Ebola Outbreak
An outbreak of Ebola has killed 17 people in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The country's health ministry confirmed that the outbreak was the deadly virus on Tuesday.
The outbreak, in the north-western part of the country, is the ninth known outbreak in the central African nation.
The Ebola virus owes its name to the Ebola river, in the Democratic Republic of Congo's east, and follows behind an earlier outbreak last year that killed eight people.
The Health Ministry statement read: "Our country is facing another epidemic of the Ebola virus, which constitutes an international public health emergency.
"We still dispose of the well-trained human resources that were able to rapidly control previous epidemics."
The virus is thought to be spread over large areas by bats, who can carry the illness without any ill effects. The bats then spread the deadly virus to other animals who live alongside them in the trees, with humans liable to contract the virus from eating those animals.
Infected bushmeat is thought to be one of the main ways that humans contract Ebola.
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The outbreak was confirmed after 21 people were reportedly suffering from haemorrhagic fever in an area called Ikoko Impenge, near the larger town of Bikoro.
Of those initial 21 sufferers, 17 have now died and the outbreak has been confirmed.
The World Health Organisation and the charity Medicines Sans Frontiers were sent on Saturday to investigate the potential outbreak and took five samples from those infected. Two of those samples were confirmed to be positive for the Zaire strain of Ebola (Zaire Ebolavirus).
The Health Ministry's statement continued: "Since notification of the cases on May 3, no deaths have been reported either among the hospitalised cases or the healthcare personnel."
The latest outbreak comes two years after one of the worst Ebola epidemics hit West Africa and killed more than 11,300 people, infecting about 28,600.
That outbreak happened across Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia. The Democratic Republic of Congo is well known for having Ebola outbreaks with high frequency, but the death toll has been significantly lower recently.
There have been several attempts to create a vaccine for the Ebola virus, with the most recent and successful one coming in late 2016.
The VSV-VEBOV vaccine was found to be 70-100 percent effective after tests and was sanctioned for use during the last outbreak of Ebola in the DRC. However, it was not eventually deployed as a result of logistical concerns and the small size of the outbreak.
Featured Image Credit: PA