Shock Ebola outbreak in Congo - 10 new cases suspected and two confirmed

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   OUTBREAK Two new cases of Ebola have been confirmed in Congo

While so far the outbreak is contained to a small village named Ikoko Impenge, near the town of Bikoro, officials worry that because of the village's close proximity to the Congo River, the disease may still spread.

In the past five weeks, there have been 21 suspected cases of viral hemorrhagic fever, including 17 deaths.

The Ebola virus causes an acute, serious illness which is often fatal if untreated. The average case fatality rate is around 50%. It often spreads to humans via infected bushmeat.

Two of those samples tested positive for the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus, the ministry said. More specimens are being collected for testing.

"Our top priority is to get to Bikoro to work alongside the government " the WHO's Peter Salama said in a statement. "Working with partners and responding early and in a coordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease".

All the cases were reported from a clinic at Ilkoko Iponge, located about 30 kilometres from Bikoro, where treatment capacities are limited, the World Health Organization said. The new cases were reported from a small health facility about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Bikoro.




The WHO described the outbreak as "a public health crisis of worldwide importance".

"We will gather more samples, conduct contact tracing, engage the communities with messages on prevention and control, and put in place methods for improving data collection and sharing", said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa. It said the first teams of experts, including epidemiologists, biologists and hygiene specialists had been dispatched and were due to arrive in the affected region by Friday or Saturday.

The WHO declared the epidemic over in January 2016, although this was followed by flare-ups in all three countries. The WHO released $1 million from its emergency contingency fund to support the response over the next 3 months, and it has set up its incident management system to funnel staff and resources to the outbreak area.

Ebola is endemic to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Jean Jack Muyembe, head of the National Institute for Biological Research in the Democratic Republic of Congo, confirmed the two cases and said 10 more were suspected.

The worldwide health organisation says it has released $1m (£738,000) from an emergency fund and has deployed more than 50 experts to work with officials in the DR Congo.

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