Ebola virus outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo ‘could spread around the world’ after killing 17 people in Africa

The revelation comes just after the deadly virus swept across West Africa between 2013 and 2016, killing at least 11,000 people.

It is the ninth time Ebola has hit the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), whose eastern Ebola river gave the deadly virus its name.

The World Health Organisations said: "In the past five weeks, there have been 21 suspected viral haemorrhagic fever…including 17 deaths."

The DRC health ministry warned of the “public health emergency with international impact” on Tuesday.

There is no current vaccine to prevent Ebola or licensed treatment for it, although a range of experimental drugs are in development.

Early care with rehydration may boost the chance of survival.


The Ebola virus, also known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a disease that occurs in humans and primates.

The virus is part of the Filoviridae family, which also includes Marburg virus.

To date, scientists have identified five strains of Ebola – four of which are known to cause disease in humans.

The epidemic which swept West Africa from 2013 to 2015 left thousands dead.

Ebola was first identified by a team of scientists in The Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976.

Prior to the 2014 outbreak in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, the mortality rate of the Ebola virus had been between 25 per cent and 89 per cent – with an average of 67 per cent.

During the West African outbreak mortality varied between 25 per cent to 90 per cent.

The virus has an incubation period of two to 21 days, meaning symptoms can take up to three weeks to appear from the time of infection.

Early symptoms of Ebola include:



Muscle pain

Sore throat


They are similar to those of other diseases, making diagnosis tricky in some cases.

Later as the disease progresses, it can cause:




impaired kidney and liver function

Stomach pain

Internal and external bleeding

"Our top priority is to get to Bikoro to work alongside the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and partners to reduce the loss of life," said Dr Peter Salama of the WHO.

"Working with partners and responding early and in a coordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease."

WHO plans to deploy clinicians, infection prevention and control experts and vaccination support teams in the coming days.

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