DRC Declares End of 14th Ebola Outbreak -Vaccinations Reduced Deadly Virus Toll
Ebola vaccination in Mbandaka, Équateur Province (DRC); swift response helped reduce the toll of the province’s most recent outbreak.

The Ebola outbreak that erupted on 23 April in the Democratic Republic of the Congo today was declared to be over  by DRC and WHO authorities – with fewer cases and deaths than previous episodes thanks to a swift response including vaccinations.

The outbreak erupted in Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur Province in the country’s northwest. It was the third outbreak seen in the province since 2018 and the country’s 14th overall.

While DRC is among those countries seeing outbreaks of Ebola and other zoonotic diseases with greater frequency, a swifter response using a new arsenal of Ebola vaccines, as well as stepped-up contact tracing and education around prevention, is also reducing the length of outbreaks and the deadly toll of the disease, the head of WHO’s African Regional Office said.

“Thanks to the robust response by the national authorities, this outbreak has been brought to an end swiftly withlimited transmission of the virus,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Crucial lessons have been learned from past outbreaks and they have been applied to devise and deploy an ever more effective Ebola response.”

In the most recent case, vaccinations were launched just four days after the outbreak was declared. In all, there were four confirmed one probable Ebola case – all of whom died. In comparison, in the previous outbreak in Equateur Province that lasted from June to November 2020, there were 130 confirmed cases and 55 deaths.

The recent outbreak saw a total of 2104 people vaccinated, including 302 contacts and 1307 frontline workers. To facilitate the vaccination rollout, an ultra-cold chain freezer was installed in Mbandaka which allowed for vaccine doses to be stored locally and safely and be delivered effectively.

The DRC has now recorded 14 Ebola outbreaks since 1976, six of which have occurred since 2018.

“Africa is seeing an increase in Ebola and other infectious diseases that jump from animals to humans impacting large urban areas,” Moeti warned. “We need to be ever more vigilant to ensure we catch cases quickly. This outbreak response shows that by bolstering preparedness, disease surveillance and swift detection, we can stay a step ahead.”

Image Credits: WHO/Junior D. Kannah.

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