The worst Ebola epidemic in history supposedly ended up in West Africa two years ago, but the fact is that since May 3rd the deadly virus is back this time in Democratic Republic of Congo.
“Our country is facing another epidemic of the Ebola virus, which constitutes an international public health emergency,” the health ministry said in a statement on Tuesday confirming the death of 17 people outbreak of Ebola.
The Ebola virus was named after the Ebola River in central Africa after being discovered there in the 1970s, and since then it has swept Africa continent causing the deaths of thousands of people.
In West Africa two years ago more than 11,300 people died of Ebola and 28,600 were infected in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Ebola is believed to be spread over long distances by bats, which can host the virus without dying, as it infects and often spreads to humans via infected bushmeat.
“We still dispose of the well trained human resources that were able to rapidly control previous epidemics,” Congo says.
Local health officials reported 21 patients showing signs of hemorrhagic fever near the town of Bikoro, whom seventeen of those later died.
Medical teams supported by the World Health Organization and medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres were dispatched to the zone on Saturday.
“Our top priority is to get to Bikoro to work alongside the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and partners to reduce the loss of life and suffering related to this new Ebola virus disease outbreak,” said Dr Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General, Emergency Preparedness and Response.
“Working with partners and responding early and in a coordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease.”
Health experts credit an awareness of the disease among the population and local medical staff’s experience treating for past successes containing its spread.
Ikoko Impenge and Bikoro, however, lie not far from the banks of the Congo River, an essential waterway for transport and commerce.
Further downstream the river flows past Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital Kinshasa and Brazzaville, capital of neighboring Congo Republic - two cities with a combined population of over 12 million people.