Ebola case detected in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Oct. 11, 2021

The Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has announced a new laboratory confirmed case of Ebola virus disease (EVD), according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

It has been detected in Butsili Health Area, Beni Health Zone in North Kivu Province.

Earlier this year, an EVD outbreak affected North Kivu Province, but the WHO declared it over on May 3, 2021.

The case was a 3-year-old male who, in early October, developed symptoms including physical weakness, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, breathing difficulty, dark stool and blood in their vomit. He died on October 6.

On October 7, 2021, samples were tested at the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) laboratory in Beni for molecular analysis. These were later sent to the Rodolphe Mérieux INRB Laboratory, Goma on 8 October and EVD was confirmed by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on the same day.

This follows a cluster of three deaths (two children and their father) who were neighbors of the case. These three patients died on September 14, 19 and 29 after developing symptoms consistent with Ebola; however, none were tested for the virus.

The Beni Health Zone was informed about these three deaths on September 30. A joint investigation team, comprising members of the Beni Health Zone and WHO, was deployed to further investigate and list the contacts. Two samples were collected to test for COVID-19, but the group did not take samples for EVD testing. No safe and dignified burials were conducted. Severe malaria, EVD, measles and meningitis were retrospectively listed as potential causes.

Butsili Health Area is close to Beni city, which was one of the epicenters of the 2018–2020 Ebola outbreak in the country with 736 probable and confirmed cases reported. It is about 50 km from Butembo city, which experienced a new Ebola outbreak earlier this year. It is not unusual for sporadic cases to occur following a major outbreak, but it is too early to say whether this case is related to the previous outbreaks, the WHO said.

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