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Ebola outbreak in DRC declared over after 3 months, six deaths

The 12th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was declared over Monday following 12 confirmed cases and six deaths, according to the WHO's Regional Office for Africa.

The outbreak in North Kivu province began in February and was related to another outbreak in the region that lasted almost 2 years and was declared over last June after more than 3,400 people were infected and around 2,300 people died -- the second largest Ebola outbreak in history.

The last patients in the most recent outbreak were discharged in March, beginning the 42-day countdown -- the length of two incubation periods -- that is required for an outbreak to be officially declared over. The outbreak was reported after the wife of a survivor of the previous outbreak died from the disease.

CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, commended the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) health ministry and partners for ending the outbreak.

"We are proud to have been part of the effort and remain committed to supporting the DRC's efforts to assist outbreak survivors, prevent future outbreaks and quickly detect and respond to any new cases of Ebola," Walensky said in a statement. "Our hearts are with the families who lost loved ones due to this deadly disease."

WHO Regional Director for Africa Matshidiso Moeti, MBBS, MSc, credited "local health workers and the national authorities for their prompt response, tenacity, experience and hard work that brought this outbreak under control."

"Although the outbreak has ended, we must stay alert for possible resurgence and at the same time use the growing expertise on emergency response to address other health threats the country faces," Moeti said.

According to WHO, approximately 2,000 high-risk people were vaccinated in response to the outbreak, including 500 frontline workers.

In a statement, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc, attributed the end of the outbreak to "the professionalism, sacrifices and collaboration by hundreds of true health heroes, in particular the Congolese responders."

"This has only been possible thanks to a concerted, comprehensive and consistent approach using vaccines and therapeutics alongside proven public health measures with empowered and engaged communities." Tedros said during a scheduled WHO press briefing.

Guinea is also counting down to the end of an Ebola outbreak that has been genetically linked to the West African Ebola epidemic that ended in 2016. The countdown was restarted late last month after a new case was reported.

[Source: By Eamon N. Dreisbach, Ebola Resource Center, Healio News, NJ, 03May22]

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