Five months after the end of the most recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a new case of the disease has been confirmed in it’s eastern region, the Health Minister said on Friday.
It is not confirmed if the recent case is related to the 2018-2020 outbreak; the second deadliest on record that killed more than 2,200 people in eastern Congo, or the flare-up that killed six this year.
Near the eastern city of Beni, one of the epicentres of the 2018-2020 outbreak, a 3-year-old boy tested positive and died from the disease on Wednesday, Health Minister Jean Jacques Mbungani said in a statement.
About 100 people who may have been exposed to the virus have been identified and will be monitored to see if they develop any symptoms, he added.
Ebola causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea, and is spread through contact with body fluids.
An internal report from Congo’s biomedical laboratory said that three of the toddler’s neighbours in Beni’s densely-populated Butsili neighbourhood also presented symptoms consistent with Ebola last month and died, but none were tested.
Congo has recorded 12 outbreaks since the disease was discovered in the equatorial forest near the Ebola River in 1976.
“Thanks to the experience acquired in managing the Ebola virus disease during previous epidemics; we are confident that the response teams … will manage to control this outbreak as soon as possible,” Mbungani said.
Health experts say it is not unusual for sporadic cases to occur following a major outbreak.
Since the development of treatments for the disease that typically kills about half of those it infects in West Africa, death rates have significantly reduced when cases are detected early.