Ebola outbreak in DR Congo believed to have killed 33: health ministry

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KINSHASA, Aug 5, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – A new outbreak of the Ebola virus in the
Democratic Republic of Congo is believed to have killed 33 people in the east
of the country, the health ministry said Saturday.

Thirteen Ebola cases have been confirmed since the fresh outbreak was
declared on August 1 in North Kivu province.

While just three of the fatalities have been among the 13 confirmed cases,
the death toll is believed to have risen to 33, the health authorities said
in a bulletin Saturday.

Containing an Ebola outbreak in a “war zone” in the Democratic Republic of
Congo is among the most difficult challenges the World Health Organization
has faced, a top WHO official said Friday.

In North Kivu, health workers will have to navigate their response among
more than 100 armed groups, 20 of whom are “highly active,” WHO’s emergency
response chief Peter Salama told reporters.

The outbreak in North Kivu in eastern DRC was declared a week after WHO and
the Kinshasa government hailed the end of an earlier Ebola flareup in
northwestern Equateur province, which killed 33 people.

As with the earlier outbreak,”vaccinations will be an integral part of the
response,” the health ministry said Saturday.

The latest outbreak of the haemorrhagic virus is the 10th in the DRC since
1976, when it was discovered in the north of the country, then called Zaire,
and named after a river nearby.

In Geneva, the World Health Organization said most of the new cases were
recorded in the district of Mangina, 30 kilometres (18 miles) from the city
of Beni.

“This is an active conflict zone. The major barrier will be safely
accessing the affected population,” the WHO said.

One of the world’s most feared diseases, Ebola is a virus-caused
haemorrhagic fever that in extreme cases causes fatal bleeding from internal
organs, the mouth, eyes or ears.

It has a natural host in a species of tropical African fruit bats, from
which it is believed to leap to humans who kill and butcher the animals for
food.

In the worst outbreak of Ebola, the disease struck the West African states
of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2013-15, killing more than 11,300
people.

The DRC authorities were alerted to the recent outbreak by the death of a
65-year-old woman in Mangina in late July.

After she was buried members of her family began to display symptoms of the
virus “and seven of them have died,” the ministry said Saturday.

Probable Ebola cases have also been registered in neighbouring Ituri
province.

While insisting that all means available were being used to stop the latest
outbreak, Doctor Ndjoloko Tambwe Bathe, who is heading the fight against the
virus, told the UN’s news website Okapi that “we can not tell you whether we
are making good progress or not”.

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