DRC: MSF emergency team responds to Ebola outbreak

An emergency team from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is responding to an outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Isiro, northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

So far nine people have died, only one of whom has been confirmed by lab tests as having Ebola. Twelve more people are suspected to have the disease – one has been admitted to the treatment centre in Isiro. One patient who contracted the disease has made a full recovery.  

The MSF team is implementing safety measures at the Ebola treatment centre in Isiro to contain the virus.

Since late July, another MSF emergency team has been responding to an outbreak of Ebola in Kibaale district, western Uganda, which has killed 17 people. However, these two outbreaks involve different strains of the virus: the Bundibugyo strain in DRC and the Sudan strain in western Uganda.

“The outbreak in Uganda and the one in DRC are not related,” says Olimpia de la Rosa, MSF emergency coordinator. “This strengthens the idea that the Ebola virus is transmitted by close contact, making it less likely to cross borders.”

An MSF team continues to work in Kibaale, Uganda, with the Ugandan Ministry of Health and organisations including the Ugandan Red Cross, the US Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization. Indications are that the epidemic centred in the town of Kagadi has been successfully contained. The last confirmed case of Ebola was reported on 4 August. An outbreak is considered to be at an end after 42 days without any new confirmed cases.

Ebola haemorrhagic fever was detected for the first time in humans in 1976 in Zaire (now DRC). It is transmitted through body fluids and, depending on the strain of the virus and people’s genetic susceptibility to the disease, can have a high mortality rate.