By Sola Ogundipe
A resurgence of the Ebola Virus Disease has been reported in the troubled east of the Democratic Republic of Congo after a woman died of the disease, just three months after authorities declared the end of the country’s previous outbreak.
Making the announcement on state television RTNC, on Sunday, the country’s health ministry said there was another episode of the Ebola virus in the Biena health zone of North Kivu province.
The victim was a farmer, the wife of a survivor of Ebola, who showed typical signs of the disease on February 1.
She died on February 3, after which a sample of her blood tested positive for Ebola, the health ministry said.
DR Congo declared on November 18 the end of its 11th Ebola outbreak, which claimed 55 lives out of 130 cases over nearly six months in the northwestern province of Equateur.
The last person declared recovered from Ebola in Equateur was on October 16.
The widespread use of Ebola vaccinations, which were administered to more than 40,000 people, helped curb the disease.
The return of Ebola in the country’s northeast – a region plagued by violence between armed groups – comes as the country is also fighting the COVID-19 outbreak.
A previous Ebola outbreak in the DRC’s east, which ran from August 1, 2018, to June 25, 2020, was the country’s worst-ever, with 2,277 deaths.
It was also the second-highest toll in the 44-year history of the disease, surpassed only by a three-country outbreak in West Africa from 2013 – 2016 that killed 11,310 out of 28,616 cases reported in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
Ebola haemorrhagic fever was first identified in 1976 after scientists probed a string of unexplained deaths in what is now northern DRC.
The symptoms are severe: high fever and muscle pain followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, skin eruptions, kidney and liver failure, internal and external bleeding.
The average fatality rate from Ebola is around 50 per cent but this can rise to 90 per cent for some epidemics, according to the World Health Organisation.
DR Congo has recorded over 23,500 coronavirus cases and at least 680 deaths in a population of around 80 million people.