The World Health Organization says its investigation into an Ebola outbreak in northern Democratic Republic of Congo centers on a 39-year-old man whose fatal symptoms first appeared on April 22.
The organization also is focused on two of his contacts. One is a moto-taxi driver who took the man to a health care facility who has since died, and the other is a caregiver who took care of the patient during the transport to the facility. The second person also has symptoms, WHO said in a statement Saturday.
All told, three people have died and six remain hospitalized. No information is yet available about the other cases, and test results have not yet been completed except for the first positive Ebola diagnosis.
That case was confirmed Thursday at a Kinshasa laboratory, WHO said. The DR Congo Ministry of Public Health confirmed the multiple cases. “Our country must confront an outbreak of the Ebola virus that constitutes a public health crisis of international significance,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Ministry of Health, WHO and partner agencies were immediately dispatched to the Likati health zone in the Bas-Uele province. The region is in the extreme north of the country, at the border with the Central African Republic and not far from South Sudan.
Among the responding emergency teams is the medical NGO Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA), which has a base near Kisangani. The organization has sent doctors and nurses, but also epidemiologists and logistics experts, and water, sanitation and hygiene teams. Protection equipment and other medical supplies also have been shipped.
“The population lives in a remote area where access to health care is extremely limited,” said ALIMA. “We are doing all we can to avoid the spread of the disease.”
WHO said this is the first Ebola outbreak in DR Congo since 2014, in which 49 people died in Boende.