One week after celebrating the defeat of an Ebola outbreak in Équateur province, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has four new confirmed cases of the disease 2500 kilometers across the country in North Kivu province.
The DRC’s health ministry says there’s no indication of a link between the outbreaks. “It’s sad,” says Yap Boum, a microbiologist based in Yaoundé who works with Doctors Without Borders, a nongovernmental organization that helped run an Ebola vaccine campaign against the previous outbreak.
Ebola is endemic in the DRC, which now has had 10 outbreaks since the virus first was discovered there in 1976. “Although we did not expect to face a 10th epidemic so early, the detection of the virus is an indicator of the proper functioning of the surveillance system,” a DRC Ministry of Health communique said.
Boum adds that the DRC villages today are much more connected than in the past, and many previous small outbreaks may have gone undetected.
The current outbreak is centered in Mangina, a village about 30 kilometers from the city of Béni, which is close to the famed Virunga National Park and the border of Uganda.
The North Kivu health division notified the DRC Ministry of Health on 28 July that there were 26 cases of hemorrhagic fever in the area, with 20 deaths. The National Institute of Biomedical Research in Kinshasa confirmed that samples from four hospitalized patients tested positive for Ebola.