Ebola case surfaces in DR Congo’s western Equateur

A new Ebola outbreak has been confirmed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s northwestern provincial province of Mbandaka, Congolese health officials said on Saturday, declaring an outbreak almost four months after the last end in the Central African nation.

One case was confirmed in a 31-year-old man who began experiencing symptoms on April 5 and sought treatment at a health facility after more than a week of home care, the World Health Organization (WHO) said. He was admitted to an Ebola treatment center on Thursday for intensive care but died the same day.

“Time is not on our side,” says Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “The disease has had a two-week lead and we are now catching up. The positive news is that health authorities in Congo have more experience than anyone else in the world of quickly controlling Ebola outbreaks,” Moeti added.

Congo has experienced 13 registered Ebola outbreaks since the virus was first discovered in the conflict-affected country in 1976. This is the third in the equatorial province since 2018.

The WHO says that the patient received a safe and dignified funeral and that efforts to stop the outbreak are ongoing. Authorities have begun tests and contact tracing. Vaccinations will begin in the coming days, the WHO added.

“Many people in Mbandaka are already vaccinated against Ebola, which should help reduce the effects of the disease,” Moeti said. “All those who were vaccinated during the 2020 outbreak will be revaccinated,” he reassured.

Ebola is transmitted by coming into contact with body fluids from an infected person or contaminated material. However, the early symptoms of fever and muscle aches are similar to other common diseases such as malaria. In addition to vaccinations, effective treatment is now available which, if received early, can significantly improve the chances of survival.

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