Genetic analysis shows no connection between new, ongoing Ebola outbreaks in the DRC
A genetic sequence analysis performed by experts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, demonstrated that the new Ebola outbreak in Équateur Province is different from the ongoing outbreak in the eastern part of the country.
“We are not surprised to find no link between the current outbreak in Mbandaka and the two previous ones. The ongoing Ebola outbreaks are far apart and there is a flight ban in place due to COVID-19,” WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti, MBBS, MSc, said in a press release. “National health authorities supported by WHO and partners have led an effective response against Ebola in eastern DRC despite huge challenges. We expect the same national expertise will be leveraged to overcome the current outbreak in Mbandaka.”
The outbreak was announced on June 1 after a cluster of cases was identified in Mbandaka. So far, 12 cases, including nine confirmed and three probable, and eight deaths have been verified. According to WHO, there are more than 20 WHO staff responding to the outbreak, with additional staff expected to arrive later this week to help with containment efforts. In addition, 2,200 doses of the Ebola vaccine have been delivered to the region, with more expected by the end of the week.
“Ebola is endemic in animal reservoirs in the DRC, so it was expected that new cases would emerge,” Moeti said. “While the new Ebola outbreak in Mbandaka represents a challenge, it’s one we are ready to tackle. With each experience, we respond faster and more effectively.”
The new outbreak emerged as the larger, ongoing outbreak, which was declared on Aug. 1, 2018, began winding down. That outbreak was nearly declared over in early April of this year before a new cluster of cases emerged on April 10. To date, there have been 3,463 cases and 2,280 deaths in that outbreak, making it the second largest Ebola outbreak after the West African epidemic.
According to WHO, the DRC Ministry of Health began the 42-day countdown to the declaration of the end of the larger outbreak in the eastern part of the country on May 14.