A new case of Ebola virus has emerged in the Democratic Republic of Congo, claiming the life of a 31-year-old man living in Equateur Province in the northwestern part of the country.
The man began having symptoms on April 5 in the city of Mbandaka, according to the World Health Organization. He was admitted to an Ebola care center on April 21 and died later that day.
“Time is not on our side,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “The disease has had a two-week head start and we are now playing catch-up. The positive news is that health authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have more experience than anyone else in the world at controlling Ebola outbreaks quickly.”
Indeed, this is the fourteenth Ebola outbreak in DR Congo since 1976, and the sixth since 2018. Previous outbreaks have affected the same province in 2020 and 2018.
News of the latest case has been met with a rapid response from health authorities, who have initiated testing and contact tracing to try to identify any other Ebola cases. They’re also stepping up public health measures to try and contain the virus.
“Many people in Mbandaka are already vaccinated against Ebola, which should help reduce the impact of the disease,” said Moeti. “All those who were vaccinated during the 2020 outbreak will be revaccinated.”
Ebola is a severe, often fatal illness affecting humans and other primates. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks, although there are now more effective treatments that improve the chances of survival when cases are identified early.
Image: WHO file