Colored 3D rendered image SEM view of Ebola virus
Colored 3D rendered image SEM view of Ebola virus

New Ebola Case Confirmed in DRC Months After Previous Outbreak

Ebola virus was detected in samples from a child who died last week, the World Health Organization and Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Ministry of Health announce.

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ABOVE: Colored SEM image of Ebola virus
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Updates can be found at the end of the article; the most recent update is from September 27, 2022.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has recorded a new case of Ebola, according to an October 8 news release from the World Health Organization. The confirmation came from the DRC’s National Institute of Biomedical Research, which tested samples from a three-year-old child who died after showing symptoms of infection with the virus.

This case, which occurred in Butsili in the North Kivu province of eastern DRC, follows an outbreak of the virus in the same province earlier this year that killed six people, according to the WHO. There have been 12 recorded Ebola outbreaks in the country.

See “Second Person Dies in Latest Ebola Outbreak in DRC

A previous Ebola outbreak lasted from 2018 to 2020 and took the lives of more than 2,000 people in eastern DRC, according to Reuters. Health authorities are still unclear about whether this new case is connected to the outbreak that ended in 2020 or the one from earlier this year. Butsili is located near the city of Beni, an epicenter of the 2018–2020 outbreak.

“North Kivu has been battered by Ebola outbreaks during the past few years, but this has built up local expertise and community awareness, paving the way for a fast-moving response,” says Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, in the release.

Merck’s Ervebo vaccine against Ebola has been registered for use during outbreaks in eight different African countries since 2019, and this year, Merck agreed to collaborate with UNICEF to create the world’s first stockpile of Ervebo, according to a Merck statement. A second Ebola vaccine, this one made by Johnson & Johnson, is also being tested.

Jean Jacques Mbungani, the DRC’s Health Minister, tells Reuters, “Thanks to the experience acquired in managing the Ebola virus disease during previous epidemics, we are confident that the response teams . . . will manage to control this outbreak as soon as possible.”

Updates

Update (October 14, 2021): A woman has tested positive for Ebola in Beni, the second recorded case in the current outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, Reuters reports. 

Update (October 15, 2021): Genetic sequencing has confirmed that the new outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo is connected to the 2018-2020 outbreak, reporter Helen Branswell of STAT tweeted yesterday.

Update (December 16, 2021): The Democratic Republic of the Congo has declared the North Kivu Ebola outbreak over, the World Health Organization announced today. More than 1,800 people were vaccinated in a campaign to control the outbreak, which ultimately killed six patients.

Update (April 25, 2022): Democratic Republic of Congo has declared an Ebola outbreak after detecting a single case in the city of Mbandaka in the country’s northwest, according to a WHO announcement.

Update (August 23, 2022): The Democratic Republic of Congo’s ministry of health has confirmed a new case of Ebola in the eastern city of Beni, reports the Associated Press. The virus was genetically linked to the 2018–2020 outbreak. A separate flare-up of that strain earlier this year killed five people before it was declared over in July.

Update (September 27, 2022): Democratic Republic of Congo has declared an end to the Ebola outbreak in Beni after 42 days elapsed without a new case, Reuters reports.