DRC declares end to latest Ebola outbreak after 11 cases, six deaths
The latest Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is over.
The DRC on Thursday declared an end to the outbreak following 42 days — the length of two incubation periods — without a new case. Eleven people were infected in the outbreak and six died. It was the DRC’s 13th Ebola outbreak since the virus was first discovered in the country in 1976, and second this year.
The outbreak was declared Oct. 8 following the death of a child in North Kivu Province. It closely followed a 3-month outbreak that was declared over in May after 12 cases and six deaths. Both outbreaks occurred in the same area as a 2-year outbreak that ended in June 2020, which infected more than 3,400 people and killed more than 2,200 — the second-largest Ebola outbreak on record.
Officials credited a quick response with ending the latest outbreak. According to WHO, more than 1,800 people received Merck’s Ebola vaccine after the first case was identified.
“Stronger disease surveillance, community engagement, targeted vaccination and prompt response are making for more effective Ebola containment in the region,” Matshidiso Moeti, MD, MPH, WHO’s Regional Director for Africa, said in a press release. “During this outbreak, the Democratic Republic of Congo was able to limit widespread infections and save lives. Crucial lessons are being learned and applied with every outbreak experience.”
As with past Ebola outbreaks in the DRC, the response was complicated by regional insecurity. According to WHO, “unpredictable and sometimes volatile security in parts of Beni” — the city at the center of the outbreak — “hampered response in some localities, with health workers and other frontline responders unable to access insecure areas to monitor high-risk contacts or administer vaccines.”
WHO said it sent an expert to the outbreak zone “to train WHO personnel and partners on preventing inappropriate and abusive behavior” after an investigation uncovered more than 80 alleged cases of abuse during the large outbreak in the DRC that ended in June 2020, including allegations against WHO staff.