Ebola outbreak declared in Democratic Republic of Congo


The health ministry of the Democratic Republic of Congo announced on Tuesday that seventeen people have died from Ebola in an outbreak it called a "public health emergency with worldwide impact".

It said since the notification of the cases on May 3, no deaths have been reported among those hospitalized or among health personnel.

The virus is also spread person-to-person in the blood, body fluids or organs of someone with the infection.

The worldwide health organisation says it has released $1m (£738,000) from an emergency fund and has deployed more than 50 experts to work with officials in the DR Congo.

"WHO is closely working with other partners, including MSF, to ensure a strong response to support the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to prevent and control the spreading of the disease from the epicentre", said Dr Allarangar Yokouide, WHO's representative in Congo.

An Ebola outbreak has been declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo's north-western territory of Bikoro.

"We still dispose of the well trained human resources that were able to rapidly control previous epidemics", it said.

It said of the five samples sent to the National Institute of Biological Research in Kinshasa, two came back positive for Ebola.

Congolese authorities approved the use of an experimental new vaccine but did not deploy it during last year's outbreak that killed four people. Other outbreaks in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea started in 2014 and killed over eleven thousand deaths in their wake.

The worldwide health organisation said it released US$1 million (NZ$1.4 million) from an emergency fund and deployed more than 50 experts to work with officials in the country.

The ministry said a team of experts will go to Bikoro on Wednesday to supervise and help monitor the situation to avoid further spread of the disease.

The virus is transmitted to human through contact with wild animals and can then be passed from person to person.

The latest outbreak is the ninth outbreak, since the discovery of the Ebola virus in the country in 1976.

This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, symptoms of impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding.