DRC confirms 2 Ebola infections, probes suspected cases

Ebola outbreak confirmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The virus can be spread from human to human or can be transmitted to people from animals, according to WHO.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today declared a new Ebola virus outbreak in a northwestern province, with two confirmed cases so far, coming nearly a year since the country's last outbreak began in a different remote location. The common case fatality fee is round 50%.

The latest outbreak is the ninth outbreak, since the discovery of the Ebola virus in the country in 1976.

There have been 21 suspected cases of viral hemorrhagic fever in the affected region, including 17 deaths.

After Congo's last Ebola flare-up, authorities there approved the use of a new experimental vaccine but in the end did not deploy it owing to logistical challenges and the relatively minor nature of the outbreak.

The government of DR Congo on Tuesday declared the new outbreak after laboratory results confirmed two cases of EVD. "Working with partners and responding early and in a coordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease", he said.

The outbreak occurred in Bikoro, on the shores of Lake Tumba.

A team of WHO experts - alongside regional health officials and staff from global medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) - are travelling to Bikoro as part of a coordinated medical response.

"WHO is closely working with other partners, including MSF, to ensure a strong response to support the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to prevent and control the spreading of the disease from the epicentre", said Dr Allarangar Yokouide, WHO's representative in Congo.

The global health agency said facilities in the town had to rely on worldwide organisations for fresh medical supplies.

"Our top priority is to get to Bikoro to work alongside the government " the WHO's Peter Salama said in a statement. World Health Organization has also alerted neighbouring countries.

The global health organisation said it released US$1 million (NZ$1.4 million) from an emergency fund and deployed more than 50 experts to work with officials in the country.

Further downstream the river flows past Democratic Republic of Congo's capital Kinshasa and Brazzaville, capital of neighbouring Congo Republic - two cities with a combined population of over 12 million people.

According to the Ministry of Health, the five samples taken from suspected cases were sent for analysis to the INRB of Kinshasa on Sunday, May 6.

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