Rapid response mounted to counter new outbreak of Ebola

15-May-2017

The WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti visits Kinshasa (DR Congo) to discuss with national authorities and partners ways to mount a rapid response to stop the latest Ebola outbreak

The visit follows notification by the DRC Government of an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Likati health zone, Bas Uele Province, in the northern part of the country bordering Central African Republic. As of today, 11 suspected cases including three deaths have been reported. The Likati health zone is around 1400 kilometers from the capital.

The first case occurred on 22 April in a 45-year-old male. He was transported by taxi to hospital and was dead on arrival. The driver also fell ill and later died. A third person who cared for the first case also became ill and has subsequently died. At present, 25 contacts of the second patient who died are being followed. Of the cases and deaths, one has been tested PCR-positive for Ebola.

Speaking at the meeting, Dr Moeti said: “I am here to assure the government of DR Congo that in collaboration with the UN system and other partners, we will work together to respond to this outbreak. WHO has already mobilised technical experts to be deployed on the ground and is ready to provide the leadership and technical expertise required to mount a coordinated and effective response. I encourage to public to work with the health authorities and take the necessary preventive measures to protect their health."

On 10 May 2017, a multidisciplinary team led by the Ministry of Health (MoH) and supported by WHO, under the new WHO Emergency Programme, and partners, was deployed to the Likati health zone, Bas Uele Province to conduct an in-depth field investigation.

The health zone is situated in the remote, isolated and hard-to-reach northern part of the country, with limited transport and communication networks – factors that all impeded transmission of information about the suspected outbreak. Currently it takes about 2-3 days to reach the epicenter from Kinshasa.

The full extent of the 2017 outbreak is still not yet clear. Extensive investigation and risk assessments are being conducted and the findings will be communicated accordingly. WHO does not recommend any restriction of travel and trade to DRC based on the currently available information.

This is the eighth outbreak of Ebola virus disease since its discovery in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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The Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) has been activated to provide additional support if required. Reinforcement of epidemiological surveillance, contact tracing, case management, and community engagement are underway.

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