New Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo: 43 infected, 36 dead

Wednesday, August 8, 2018
By Paul Martin

By Radina Gigova
Wed August 8, 2018

(CNN)Two more people have died from Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s latest outbreak in North Kivu province, the country’s Health Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.

That brings the total number of deaths in the latest outbreak to 36, according to the Health Ministry.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization confirmed that the latest cases in Congo’s North Kivu province are part of the Zaire strain of the virus and that there is no link to a separate outbreak, which occurred in the western Equateur province that has since been declared over.

“It’s good news and it’s very bad news,” WHO Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response Peter Salama told journalists in Geneva, after the new cases were first confirmed.

“The bad news is that this strain of Ebola carries with it the highest case-fatality-rate of any of the strains of Ebola, anywhere above 50% and higher, according to previous outbreaks,” he said. “So, it’s the most-deadly variant of the Ebola virus strains that we have, that’s the bad news. The good news is that we do have — although it’s still an investigational product — a safe and effective vaccine, that we were able to deploy last time around.”

According to WHO, this outbreak, which is in an active conflict zone, will be more complicated to contain than any that came before.

Experts believe that an experimental vaccine, known as rVSV-ZEBOV, made a difference in containing the earlier recent outbreak.

Vaccinations for the current outbreak in North Kivu began Wednesday, a spokesman for WHO confirmed, stating that “around 40 health workers are expected to be vaccinated today; by end of the week, once all the necessary steps are in place, vaccination of community contacts and their contacts will commence.”

A total of 43 cases of hemorrhagic fever have been reported in North Kivu province, of which 16 are confirmed and 27 are probable, said the ministry. Authorities are investigating an additional 46 suspected cases, according to the ministry.

The two new deaths were reported in the towns of Beni and Mabalako, in the northern part of the province, according to the ministry. Ebola cases have also been reported in the towns of Butembo, Oicha, Musienene and Mandima, said the ministry.

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