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Ebola Epidemic Resurfaces in DR Congo's Equateur Province

Radio Okapi - August 25, 2014
DR Congo health minister Felix Kabange Numbi
DR Congo's health minister Felix Kabange Numbi | Enlarge
DR Congo is facing an Ebola epidemic for the seventh time since 1976. Officials announced on Sunday that the disease had resurfaced in Dejra, Equateur Province.

At least 13 people had died by Sunday from a “hemorrhagic fever of unknown source” until further tests confirmed that it was Ebola.

The Congolese Minister of Public Health, Felix Kabange Numbi, said that the experience gained from the previous six epidemics will be put to use to contain the disease. The Djera area has been put under quarantine.

Mr. Numbi said that there were no recorded cases in the provincial capital Mbandaka, located 600km from Djera, and none in Kinshasa, located 1200km from the area.

“This epidemic has no connection with that outbreak in West Africa,” Mr. Numbi said.

It's in DR Congo, which was then called Zaire, that Ebola was first identified in 1976 in Yambuku, Equateur Province. 318 people were infected, 280 died.

A year later, the disease reappeared in DR Congo. The only person infected did not survive.

The epidemic resurfaced in 1995 in the city of Kikwit,  in Bandundu Province, 315 people were infected, two 254 died.

In 2007, there was another epidemic in  Mweka, Kasai Occidental province, leading to 187 deaths of the 264 cases recorded.

The following year, the disease reappeared in the same province in Mweka 2. It is more contained than the previous year. Thirty-two cases and fourteen deaths were recorded.

The last Ebola outbreak in DR Congo before the one declared in Djera was in 2012. It surfaced in Isiro, Orientale Province, leading to 29 deaths of the 57 reported cases. This is the last Ebola outbreak the country has known before that of Djera.

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