A new outbreak of Ebola virus disease was declared Tuesday in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where government officials confirmed two cases in the lakeside town of Bikoro in the country’s northwest.
The World Health Organization said it was working closely with the DR Congo’s Ministry of Health, after being notified that two of five patient samples sent for laboratory testing returned positive for the Ebola virus.
More specimens are being collected for testing at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale in Kinshasa.
This is DRC’s ninth Ebola outbreak since the discovery of the virus in the country in 1976, including the most recent one last May. In the past five weeks, there have been 21 suspected viral hemorrhagic fever cases in and around the iIkoko Iponge health facility some 30 kilometers from Bikoro.
Those cases have resulted in 17 deaths, WHO said.
“Our top priority is to get to Bikoro to work alongside the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and partners to reduce the loss of life and suffering related to this new Ebola virus disease outbreak,” said Dr Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response. “Working with partners and responding early and in a coordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease.”
The first multidisciplinary team comprised of experts from WHO, Doctors Without Borders and local health officials traveled Tuesday to Bikoro to support the investigation and response.