33 reported dead in Congo Ebola outbreak

Doctors Without Borders team members walk through an Ebola security zone at the entrance of a hospital in DR Congo where a fresh outbreak of the virus was declared

Doctors Without Borders team members walk through an Ebola security zone at the entrance of a hospital in DR Congo where a fresh outbreak of the virus was declared

A total of 43 cases of Ebola haemorrhagic fever, 13 of which have been confirmed, have been recorded since the beginning of the new epidemic in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo declared on 1 August, according to a report published on Saturday by Congo's Ministry of Health.

The latest flare-up was announced one week after Congo's government declared the end of another outbreak in northwestern Congo that is believed to have killed 33 people as well.

Three cases have been confirmed in Beni, a regional trading hub of several hundred thousand people about 30 km from the centre of the outbreak in the town of Mabalako, and some 70 km from the Ugandan border.

Containing an Ebola outbreak in a "war zone" in the Democratic Republic of Congo is among the most hard challenges the World Health Organization has faced, a top WHO official said Friday. Overall 33 people have died, it said.

The swift vaccinations of more than 3,300 people helped in containing the previous outbreak, and World Health Organization has said it hopes to know as early as Tuesday whether the Ebola strain in this new outbreak is the one for which the vaccine can be used. World Health Organization can mobilize up to 300,000 more doses "at very short notice", Dr. Peter Salama said Friday. Health authorities say they have no evidence the two are connected.

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Congo has dealt with Ebola for decades and this is its tenth outbreak of the virus.

It has a natural host in a species of tropical African fruit bats, from which it is believed to leap to humans who kill and butcher the animals for food. There is no specific treatment, and the virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain. "She was buried, we believe, in an unsafe burial in terms of Ebola standards and seven deaths have occurred in her immediate family", Salama said.

Congo's health ministry said health officials also were looking at suspected cases in the neighboring province of Ituri to the north, which also shares a short stretch of border with South Sudan.

With the region's armed groups in mind, the ministry said it was working with Congo's defense ministry and the United Nations peacekeeping mission on security for health workers and the community at large.

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