Is West Africa At Risk Of A Reemergence Of The Ebola Virus?

On Monday, August 21, 2022, the National Institute for Biomedical Research in the Democratic Republic of Congo announced a new case of Ebola virus infection in the country.

The new case confirmed in the city of Beni in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, comes barely a month after the Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared the end of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak that affected Mbandaka and Wangata health zones, Equateur province.

According to the institute’s report, genetic sequencing showed the confirmed case is linked to the 2018-2020 outbreak in North Kivu province, killing nearly 2,300 people.

“Ebola resurgences are occurring with greater frequency in the Democratic Republic of Congo which is concerning,” Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO Regional Director for Africa said in the statement. She, however, expressed confidence in local health authorities to contain the virus and stop the flare-up as they have done several times in the past.

The institution’s statement also added that contact tracing and monitoring were underway, and two hundred vaccinations will be sent to the area this week to begin a vaccination campaign to curb the spread, the statement read.

Though it’s too early to determine what the outcome of this outbreak could be and how wide it could spread, there is one aspect that many experts agree on, which is the possibility of the spread of this new case across neighbouring countries like the outbreak in 2014.

During the outbreak of 2014 that pushed into several West African countries, a total of 28,616 people were infected, and 11,310 people died before the international public health emergency ended in June 2016. The virus spread across Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, DRC and Nigeria.

On the other hand, health experts have said the difference between the outbreak then and now is that they are better prepared to contain the outbreak.

DRC has dense tropical forests which are a natural reservoir for the virus, hence the re-emergence of the virus nearly every year. Since 1976, the country has recorded 14 Ebola outbreaks

 

Patsy Nwogu

A writer focused on data journalism, health and data analytics.

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