The World Health Organization, WHO, has said that Congo’s deadly Ebola outbreak is now the second largest in history, behind the devastating West Africa outbreak that killed thousands a few years ago.
- Total of 426 cases of the virus have now been reported in and around the town of Beni, taking the outbreak past that recorded in Uganda in 2000.
- WHO emergencies chief Dr. Peter Salama called it “a sad toll”.
- Beni is in the middle of a conflict zone and operations have been affected by rebel attacks.
- Almost 200 people have died in this outbreak of Ebola.
- But it is still much smaller than the epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016 which killed 11,310 people.
According to the WHO, the Ebola virus causes an acute, serious illness which is often fatal if untreated. Ebola virus disease (EVD) first appeared in 1976 in 2 simultaneous outbreaks, one in what is now, Nzara, South Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.
The 2014–2016 outbreak in West Africa was the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the virus was first discovered in 1976. There were more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined. It also spread between countries, starting in Guinea then moving across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The virus family Filoviridae includes three genera: Cuevavirus, Marburgvirus, and Ebolavirus.
Within the genus Ebolavirus, five species have been identified: Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Reston and Taï Forest.
The first three, Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Zaire ebolavirus, and Sudan ebolavirus have been associated with large outbreaks in Africa. The virus causing the 2014–2016 West African outbreak belongs to the Zaire ebolavirus species.