The Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo has spread from the countryside into urban areas, prompting fears that it will be difficult to control.
Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga confirmed a case in Mbandaka, a city of a million inhabitants at more than hundred kilometres distance from where the places where first outbreak was confirmed.
Mbandaka is a busy transportation hub with routes to Kinshasa.
At least 44 people are considered to have been infected with Ebola and 23 deaths are being investigated.
Ebola, or haemorrhagic fever, is a serious viral illness that causes internal bleeding and usually proves fatal. It can spread rapidly through contact with small amounts of bodily fluid and its early flu-like symptoms are not always obvious. Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is a rare and deadly disease in people and nonhuman primates. The viruses that cause EVD are located mainly in sub-Saharan Africa. EVD spreads through direct contact with an infected animal, for example a bat or nonhuman primate, or in most cases with a sick or dead human infected with Ebola virus.
At present there is no approved vaccine or treatment for EVD. Research on EVD focuses on finding the virus’ natural host, developing vaccines to protect at-risk populations, and discovering therapies to improve treatment of the disease. The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests. The 2014–2016 outbreak in West Africa involved major urban areas as well as rural ones.