May 12, 2017 - Health

Democratic Republic of Congo's first Ebola outbreak since 2014

Aurelie Marrier d'Unienville / AP

The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed Friday there is a new Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. One person has tested positive for Ebola (it's lab-confirmed), there are nine "suspected" of being infected, and three of them have died. The group of people have been exhibiting symptoms since April 22. It wasn't clear whether the confirmed case was one of the nine, per The Washington Post.

Why it matters: As TIME's cover story put it: "An infection in all but the most remote corner of the world can make its way to a major city in a day or less." Plus, recall the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak killed 11,300 worldwide and infected 28,600 people.

  • Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia have all been Ebola-free since June of last year.

Response plan: For now the ministry is distributing protective kits for health workers and epidemiologists, community engagement experts, and water sanitation experts are to reach the affected area, Bas-Uélé, today or tomorrow. Médecins Sans Frontières and UNICEF have offered support. The Director of WHO's Africa regional office is arriving this weekend in the DRC to coordinate response efforts with the Ministry of Health.

The Ebola strain is the same one that was the most prevalent in the 2014-2015 outbreak, the Zaire strain.

Vaccine progress: Researchers are working on developing a vaccine to target this strain, and although the U.S. hasn't approved it, it could become available with an emergency authorization.

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