New Ebola Outbreak Strikes Central Africa

The Ebola virus has struck again in the Democratic Republic of Congo, resulting in a new outbreak just after another was reported to be contained. The country’s Health Ministry has reported at least 20 people have been killed in Beni, a city in the northeast province of North Kivu. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director general of the World Health Organization, said on Twitter that “we will fight this one as we did the last.”

Ebola is considered endemic to Congo because of its equatorial forest ecosystem. The virus, which causes fevers and fatal hemorrhaging, first appeared in the country in 1976. This latest outbreak is the 10th time that Ebola has menaced the African nation.

In April, an Ebola outbreak killed at least 33 people in an area that included Mbandaka, a river port with a population of over a million inhabitants. The outbreak was contained using an experimental vaccine provided by Merck and the World Health Organization quickly sent aid to prevent the disease from spreading further. The response to that outbreak was considered a success and the outbreak was officially declared over on July 24.

The new outbreak is located about 2,500 kilometers away from the previous one and officials believe that there is no link between the two. The health minister, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, said in a statement that “at this stage, there is no indication that these two epidemics, separated by more than 2,500 kilometers, are related.” He also said the ministry was “taking all necessary steps to rapidly and effectively contain this new Ebola virus disease outbreak.”

Responders are going to face difficulty fighting this latest outbreak. The region of North Kivu borders Rwanda and Uganda and is home to more than one million displaced people as well as armed militants. Beni has been the site of intense fighting in recent decades. Dr. Peter Salama, the World Health Organization’s deputy director general, said in a statement, “This is an active conflict zone. The major barrier will be safely accessing the affected population.”

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