For the Democratic Republic of Congo, new reports of Ebola come as a severe blow to the country, where the disease was last year officially declared as eradicated.Two people have now died of the deadly disease – both cases believed to be linked to a previous outbreak, potentially sexually transmitted between an Ebola survivor and his wife (one of the two people that have now tragically died. The second believed to have been infected by the wife). It’s been reported that the virus can survive in sperm for more than a year after an infected man has recovered. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) notes that the husband was regularly monitored, with his sperm samples testing negative.
“We are waiting for the results of the [genetic] sequencing to know if it is linked to the previous outbreak or if it is a new infection,” Gervais Folefack, WHO's emergency lead for Ebola in Congo, told the Telegraph.
In addition, the burial process of one of the women may have infected further people, reports say, and around 200 contacts of the two cases have been identified by local authorities so far.
Elsewhere, the African country of Guinea has now declared that it is dealing with an Ebola epidemic following the deaths of four people from the virus – the country’s first deaths from the virus since 2016, BBC News reports.
While the emerging cases are troubling, ITIJ notes that a global Ebola vaccine stockpile was recently announced by the International Coordinating Group (ICG) – made up of WHO, UNICEF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF).
It’s possible that previous vaccinations will protect a considerable number of people from the resurgence of the Ebola virus in the DRC. Otherwise, it’s time to test the efficiency of the global stockpile by distributing vaccines immediately to help quell the spread.