Ebola in DR Congo, the endless epidemic

The Democratic Republic of Congo officially declared on Monday, June 1, an eleventh epidemic of Ebola-hemorrhagic fever on its soil, with the resurgence of an outbreak in the northwest of the country. This epidemic comes on top of the tenth still ongoing in the East, which has already left more than 2,280 dead. For several years, DRK has been regularly affected by the re-emergence of the Ebola virus in its territory. How does that explain, what are the factors? Interview with Yap Boum II, epidemiologist and head of Epicenter Africa.

The Ebola virus has not said its last word in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The health authorities have declared a new epidemic in the northwest of the country following the discovery of several cases, including deaths, in the Equator province. This region was already affected by the virus between May and July 2018. It is the eleventh Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the discovery of the virus in this country (then called Zaire) in 1976. It is added to the tenth always going on in the east of the country that has already left more than 2,280 dead since its appearance in August 2018. In April 2020, the Congolese authorities andWorld Health Organization (WHO)prepared to explain the end of the Democratic Republic of Congo epidemic before the disease recurred in the city of Beni.

For several years, DRK has been regularly affected by the re-emergence of Ebola virus in its territory. A virus originating in animals, in a country that is home to most of the equatorial rainforest in Africa. “The main factor is the reservoir. The reservoir of wildlife,” explains the professor. Yap Boom II, epidemiologist and head ofEpicenter AfricaWe think of bats, we think of chimpanzees found in the forest. And the populations called pygmies that live in these forests come into contact with these reservoirs. The increasingly important contact means that from time to time this virus and these pollutants recur. “

Seasonal and socio-economic factors

Other seasonal factors may explain the recurrence of this disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo. “There may also be a socio-economic aspect that causes populations to be pushed back to their borders, due to difficulties, civil wars, inter-population wars or inter-tribal wars, which may drive some populations to be more in touch with these reservoirs.”, The professor continues.

Between humans, the virus is rapidly transmitted through direct contact with blood or body fluids. Ebola has a high average mortality rate in the case, about 50%. To combat the spread of the virus in DRC, a vaccine is used in particular. It is called rVSV-ZEBOV and was proven during the Ebola epidemic in Guinea in 2015. At the same time, treatment is also available for treating patients.