Local health officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo are attempting to find 125 people thought to be linked to cases in the remote northeastern province of Bas-Uele, near the border with the Central African Republic, according to World Health Organization (WHO) spokesman Eugene Kabambi. The province is thousands of kilometres northeast of capital, Kinshasa.
This latest case brings the total of suspected or confirmed Ebola cases to 19 in the past week. Three of the cases have been fatal, including the man suspected of being the first victim.
The current outbreak comes one year after the end of an Ebola epidemic that killed more than 11 000 people, primarily in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Both Congo and its western neighbour, Republic of Congo, have experienced Ebola outbreaks in the past and international organizations have said they are ready to assist in the event of an epidemic.
The GAVI vaccine alliance said Friday that about 300 000 emergency doses of an Ebola vaccine could be available in case of a severe outbreak, and was ready to support the Congolese government.
“This is the eighth Ebola epidemic in the Congo, it will not shake the population,” said Congolese Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga on Friday.
The Ebola virus was first discovered near the River Ebola in 1976 in northern Democratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire. The Ebola virus is often fatal, causing internal and external bleeding, as well as impaired kidney and liver function. The virus is spread by coming into contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person.