Ebola resurfaces in Congo, linked to 3 deaths

The Democratic Republic of the Congo's Ministry of Health confirmed May 11 a laboratory sample has tested positive for the Ebola virus, according to the World Health Organization. There have been 11 suspected Ebola cases, including three deaths, since April 22. 

The ministry informed WHO that of five laboratory samples tested for Ebola, one tested positive. More samples are being tested at a laboratory in Kinshasa, the nation's capital. Of the 11 suspected Ebola cases, six are still in the hospital.

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Since 1976, Congo has experienced eight Ebola outbreaks. The most recent outbreak in the country occurred in 2014, which resulted in a total of 38 laboratory-confirmed cases and 49 deaths.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo was not involved in the recent large Ebola outbreak in West Africa. From March 2014 to April 2016, there were 15,227 confirmed Ebola cases in three West African nations, resulting in 11,310 deaths, according to the CDC.

The extent of the 2017 Congo-based Ebola outbreak is not yet known. The WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr. Matshidiso Moeti visited Kinshasa to discuss strategies for an effective response to curb the outbreak.

"I am here to assure the government of DR Congo that in collaboration with the UN system and other partners, we will work together to respond to this outbreak," said Dr. Moeti. "WHO has already mobilized technical experts to be deployed on the ground and is ready to provide the leadership and technical expertise required to mount a coordinated and effective response. I encourage to public to work with the health authorities and take the necessary preventive measures to protect their health."

Ebola symptoms, which may appear anywhere from two to 21 days after exposure to the virus, include fever, diarrhea, fatigue and severe headache, the CDC notes. The virus spreads from person to person through direct contact with bodily fluids like blood or waste. Ebola is fatal about 50 percent of the time.

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