A person has died from Ebola in Congo, signaling the start of a new outbreak

The Ebola virus.
REUTERS/Frederick Murphy/CDC/Handout

KINSHASA (Reuters) -A person in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) who died of a hemorrhagic fever has tested positive for the Ebola virus, signaling the start of a new outbreak, the DRC Health Ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday.

The case was confirmed from tests on nine people who came down with a hemorrhagic fever in Bas-Uele province in the northeast of the country on or after April 22, the statement said, adding that two of the sufferers had died.

“Our country must confront an outbreak of the Ebola virus that constitutes a public health crisis of international significance,” the ministry said.

The WHO’s Congo spokesman Eric Kabambi told Reuters: “It is in a very remote zone, very forested, so we are a little lucky. We always take this very seriously.”

The World Health Organization announced on Twitter that they were informed about the outbreak on May 11 and that at least one case was confirmed to be Ebola by a national reference laboratory in Kinshasa.

The last outbreak of Ebola in Congo was in 2014 and killed 42 people.

The outbreak raises concerns after the 2014-2015 Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which was the largest epidemic of the disease ever since it was first identified in 1976 in Yambuku, in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. More than 28,600 people were infected then, with more 11,300 deaths.

After the 2014-15 epidemic, the WHO response team concluded that the risk of human infection remained unpredictable, meaning that future outbreaks were possible, but that large epidemics could be prevented with a rapid response.

(Reuters reporting by Andrew Ross)