A new case of Ebola was reported by the Democratic Republic of Congo authorities, just four months after the end of the last outbreak.
A new case of Ebola has been confirmed in northwestern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the National Institute of Biomedical Research said on Saturday.
A 31-year old man died of the infectious disease in the city of Mbandaka, the capital of DRC’s Equateur province, the institute said.
The patient began showing symptoms on April 5, but did not seek treatment for more than a week. He was admitted to an Ebola treatment center on April 21 and died later that day, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a statement.
The previous Ebola outbreak in the country was declared over just four months ago, in December 2021.
WHO tries to contain the disease
Local authorities and WHO representatives are now looking for contact persons.
“Time is not on our side,” said Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Regional Director for Africa. “The disease has had a two-week head start and we are now playing catch-up.”
The WHO said that efforts to contain the disease are already underway in Mbandaka, and that a vaccination campaign will begin in the coming days. The aim is to immunize all people who came into contact with the deceased patient.
Moeti expressed optimism about containing the outbreak. “Many people (in the village) of Mbandaka are already vaccinated against Ebola, which should reduce the effects,” he said.
Previous Ebola outbreaks in DRC
Mbandaka has already struggled with two previous outbreaks of Ebola — in 2018 and in 2020. The city is crowded, with road, water and air links to the capital Kinshasa.
Ebola fever is a rare, often fatal disease that can affect humans and primates. In previous outbreaks, the death rate was 25 to 90%, according to the WHO.
Democratic Republic of Congo has seen 13 previous outbreaks of Ebola, including one in 2018-2020 in the east that killed nearly 2,300 people. The last outbreak, also in the east, infected 11 people between October and December and killed six of them.