The World Health Organization(WHO) says, it has been notified by the Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic (DRC) of an outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) which has killed three since April 22.
“On 9 May, WHO was informed of a cluster of undiagnosed illness and deaths including haemorrhagic symptoms in Likati Health Zone, Bas Uele Province in the north of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), bordering Central African Republic.” a statement on the UN’s agency for health read.
The statement continued that, the Ministry of Health of the DRC informed WHO on May 11, that of five (5) laboratory samples tested, one (1) tested positive for Ebola virus at the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) laboratory in Kinshasa. Additional laboratory samples are currently being tested.
Since 22 April, nine suspected cases including 3 deaths have been reported. Six cases are currently hospitalized.
“An investigation team led by the Ministry of Health and supported by WHO and partners has deployed and is expected to reach the affected area in the coming days”, says Dr Peter Salama, WHO Executive Director for Emergencies.
The investigation so far available is for only three of the suspected cases, WHO has said in an update on May 13.
The first case (and possibly the index case), a 39-year-old male presented onset of symptoms on 22 April 2017 and deceased on arrival at the health facility. He presented with haematuria, epistaxis, bloody diarrhoea, and haematemesis. Two contacts of this case are being investigated: a person who took care of him during transport to the health care facility (he has since developed similar symptoms) and a moto-taxi driver (deceased) who transported the patient to the health care facility.
‘‘The WHO Country Office in the DRC is working closely with the national and provincial authorities and with the WHO Regional Office for Africa, WHO headquarters in Geneva and all other partners to facilitate deployment of health workers and protective kits in the field to strengthen epidemiological surveillance and rapidly control the outbreak’’, says Dr Yokouidé Allarangar, WHO representative in the DRC.
Dr Allarangar also announced that Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, would arrive in Kinshasa this weekend to attend a coordination meeting of the national committee at the Ministry of Health to deal with this emergency and ensure that WHO provides all necessary assistance to the DRC.
Ebola Virus Disease and the DRC
On 20 November 2014, as per WHO recommendations, the MoH of DRC and WHO declared the end of the EVD outbreak that started on 24 August 2014 and resulted in a total of 38 laboratory confirmed cases and 28 probable case including 49 deaths in Boende, Equateur province. This was the seventh outbreak of EVD since its discovery in 1976 in DRC.
There are five identified subtypes of Ebola virus. The subtypes have been named after the location where they have been first detected. Three of the five subtypes have been associated with large Ebola haemorrhagic fever (EHF) outbreaks in Africa. Ebola–Zaire, Ebola–Sudan and Ebola–Bundibugyo. EHF is a febrile haemorrhagic illness which causes death in 25–90% of all cases.
Kobby Blay is the chief health editor at Ghanahealthnest.com. A professional practicing nurse with specialty in mental health and focus for health communications, public health, medical/documentary photography, ICT and systems perspective for health improvement.