Congo Ebola outbreak poses high regional risk

Congo Ebola outbreak poses high regional risk

Another 20 people died from unidentified haemorrhagic fevers in July.

The outbreak was detected earlier this week after four people tested positive for the virus in and around the town of Mangina, home to about 60,000 people in the North Kivu province.

"To add an Ebola outbreak to this situation is likely to push many communities to breaking point. The risk is high at the country level, high at the regional level and low at a global level", he said.

"This outbreak comes at a time when the country is already unstable, with millions of people caught up in humanitarian crises as a result of ongoing conflicts", said Jose Barahona, Oxfam Country Director for the DRC.

This is the vast, forested central African country's 10th outbreak since 1976, when the virus was discovered near Congo's Ebola river in the north.

Officials said it was not yet clear whether the two Congo outbreaks separated by more than 2,500 kilometres (1,553 miles) are linked. "For the region it's high given the proximity to borders, particularly Uganda", said WHO's emergency response chief Peter Salama. "She had fever, vomiting, bloody nose and bloody diarrhoea as her final set of symptoms".

The response to Congo's previous outbreak was considered a success despite the 33 deaths, as the use of a vaccine made by Merck helped contain the virus.

Health officials have given new details about how the latest outbreak came to light.

The kind of Ebola in the latest outbreak has been confirmed as the Zaire strain that the Merck vaccine protects against.

A World Health Organization team has arrived in the war-torn region to try to contain the spread of the virus.

"I was hit with fear not only about whether my health would be attacked by Ebola, but also how I'm going to feed my family without our Mangina field because all the roads leading to Mangina have been quarantined by the health officials", he said.

"We really need to get into the area to do epidemiological investigations, try to find cases, try to work with health workers, to strengthen infection prevention and control measures and also to start with the contact tracing", he said. The province shares borders with Rwanda and Uganda, with a lot of cross border movement due to brisk trade.