A new Ebola epidemic has been declared in Equateur province, in the northwest of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to the World Health Organisation, a new case has been confirmed in Mbandaka, the first major town in Equateur province.

This is the third outbreak of this haemorrhagic fever in Equateur province since 2018.

According to Dr. Jean-Jacques Mbungani, Minister of Health, Ebola haemorrhagic fever was discovered in a 31-year-old student who died on 21 April 2022, two days after being hospitalized.

Mr. Mbungani says health teams are already on the ground to carry out response activities, including the listing and monitoring of about 74 people who may have had contact with the deceased.

He assured that disinfecting hospitals and houses should soon begin to prevent the spread of the epidemic.

This is the 14th epidemic declared in DRC since Ebola was discovered in Congo-Kinshasa in 1976. The DRC government had announced the end of the 13th Ebola outbreak on 16 December 2021.

Ebola is a serious disease, often fatal if left untreated. The disease is named after the Ebola River in the northern Democratic Republic of Congo, where the virus was first identified in 1976.

The Ebola virus is transmitted through direct contact with blood and body fluids (urine, stool, saliva, vomit, breast milk, sweat, etc.) and objects that have been infected by a person with Ebola. The virus is also transmitted through contact with sick or dead wildlife.

Symptoms of Ebola vary, but sudden onset fever, severe weakness, muscle pain, headache, and throat irritation are common at the beginning of the disease.

Vomiting and diarrhoea, skin rash, kidney and liver dysfunction, and, in some cases, internal and external bleeding are then common.

The incubation period ranges from two to 21 days. The patient is not contagious until he or she shows symptoms. Only laboratory tests can confirm the disease.

At each outbreak, the Congolese authorities advise measures such as regular hand washing and abstaining from physical contact with the sick and the dead.

In the DRC, several people have been vaccinated, notably in North Kivu and Equateur, two provinces that have experienced the disease several times.

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