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Ebola Outbreak Reaches 60 Patients in Mbandaka, DRC

JUL 21, 2020 | GRANT M. GALLAGHER
Another Ebola outbreak recently begun in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. How might this outbreak in Equateur Province differ from the recent outbreak in Kivu, a more conflict-prone region of the country?

Contagion spoke with Dr. Krutika Kuppalli and Dr. Jason Kindrachuk, experts in Ebola with experience working abroad.

Dr. Kindrachuk is a virologist who has done research on Ebola at labs within endemic countries. Kindrachuk also has experience in other emerging viruses, including coronaviruses. Dr. Kuppalli is an accomplished infectious disease physician. 

 
Context Coverage: 

New DRC Ebola Outbreak Emerging in Equateur Province 

The 11th Ebola outbreak began in early June. This piece was published when there were 6 cases detected by public health authorites.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has shared reports from the Democratic Republic of the Congo indicating a new outbreak of Ebola virus is occurring in the nation’s northwest region. As of June 1, there have been at least 6 cases detected in Mbandaka, a port city with a population of more than 1.2 million people.

The years-long Ebola outbreak in the eastern province of North Kivu, which borders Lake Kivu, was exacerbated by political violence. The region also faces a wide array of unmet social needs, with challenges ranging from measles to malnutrition. The North Kivu outbreak has just begun to decline in recent months, after more than 2260 deaths, though it is still considered a Public Health Emergency of International concern by the WHO.

The initial 6 cases detected in the Wangata health zone led to 4 deaths. At least 2 other patients are still in care. Authorities expect more cases to be identified as contact tracing is performed.

Mbandaka was the epicenter of the country’s 9th Ebola outbreak, which lasted from May-July 2018. And it now appears to be the site of the nation’s 11th.

“Given the proximity of this new outbreak to busy transport routes and vulnerable neighboring countries we must act quickly,” Matshidiso Moeti, MBBS, WHO Regional Director for Africa said in a release.

WHO and various non-governmental organizations have a presence in Mbandaka, due to infrastructure built up in preceding pandemics. The existing team in Mbandaka aided in collection and testing of samples. There are 25 more WHO personnel slated to arrive in the city tomorrow.

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