The World Health Organization has officially declared that the recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is over.
On July 2, 2017, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared that the recent Ebola outbreak that has plagued the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), was over. The last confirmed case of Ebola tested negative for the disease 47 days ago.
The outbreak, which was confirmed to have infected 8 individuals, 4 of which died, also impacted the lives of 583 contacts of those infected. These individuals, “were registered and closely monitored, but no known contacts developed signs or symptoms of Ebola virus disease,” according to a press release from WHO.
WHO was first notified of the outbreak by Ministry of Public Health in the DRC after a “cluster of undiagnosed illnesses and deaths with hemorrhagic signs in the Likati Health Zone,” according to the release. The 2017 outbreak marked the 8th outbreak of the virus in the DRC since 1976.
WHO then notified the public of the first case with a tweet:
— WHO (@WHO) May 12, 2017
Officials believe that the outbreak was able to remain effectively contained due to not only the remote location of those infected, but also “the timely alert by local authorities of suspect cases, immediate testing of blood samples due to strengthened national laboratory capacity, the early announcement of the outbreak by the government, rapid response activities by local and national health authorities with the robust support of international partners, and speedy access to flexible funding,” according to the release. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also commended the efforts put forth by WHO and its partners, stating in an official media statement that, “The CDC commends the dedicated efforts of those in the DRC whose hard work and commitment stopped the most recent Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Africa in less than 2 months. This highlights what is possible when countries are prepared to prevent, detect, and respond to disease outbreaks.” A total of 9 disease detectives from the CDC contributed to the control of the outbreak in the DRC.
WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, MD, is quoted in the release as stating, “With the end of this epidemic, DRC has once again proved to the world that we can control the very deadly Ebola virus if we respond early in a coordinated and efficient way.”
According to the WHO press release, “enhanced surveillance in the country will continue, as well as strengthening of preparedness and readiness for Ebola outbreaks.” In addition, WHO will continue to work with partners and local officials to ensure that all of those affected by the outbreak continue to have access to medical care (including psycho social care), and that they receive education on how to successfully integrate back into their family and community to reduce the risk of further transmission and the stigma carried by the disease.