The DRC battles trifecta of diseases as new Ebola cases emerge

The DRC battles trifecta of diseases as new Ebola cases emerge

- The Democratic Republic of Congo, which is already battling measles and the coronavirus, has reported a second outbreak of the ebola virus

- Four people have died in the city of Mbandaka with origins of the disease in the area still unclear

- The highly lethal virus causes hemorrhagic fever, severe vomiting and diarrhoea, among other symptoms

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A second outbreak of ebola in less than two years has struck the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Yesterday, the Congolese health ministry identified six cases of ebola in the city of Mbandaka and four of the six people have since died.

The DRC first identified the ebola virus in May 2017 and four people died while another four survived. A total of 583 contacts were monitored before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the end of the virus two months later.

Since then, the DRC has had sporadic Ebola outbreaks across the country but largely in the Équateur Province. In June 2019, WHO reported 2 025 confirmed and probable cases with 1 357 deaths.

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The highly lethal virus causes hemorrhagic fever, severe vomiting and diarrhoea, among other symptoms. The virus is spread through direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person. Fruit bats are believed to be carriers in nature and are able to spread the virus without being affected by it.

The latest outbreak comes while the DRC and the rest of the world are fighting the Covid-19 coronavirus and creates a huge strain on the Congolese health system. The DRC is also battling with the world's largest measles outbreak which has killed over 6 000 people.

Congo currently has 3 195 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 72 deaths. The WHO team is already on the ground supporting the response. The United States was heavily involved in the ebola fight between 2014 and 2016 and has been the largest international donor of resources to the ebola response since 2017.

It remains unclear what role the US will play in this latest outbreak, given President Donald Trump's threat to cut all ties with the World Health Organization.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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