Another African nation, the Democratic Republic of Congo, has reported that patients within their borders have tested positive to the Ebola virus. A government spokesperson said Sunday, CNN reported Aug. 25, that two people in the town of Gera have contracted the deadly virus. And there have been deaths as well. But government officials are noting that the Congo outbreak is not connected at all to the epidemic raging in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Nigeria. The pathogen isn't even the same strain of the virus.
Lambert Mende, Congo's information minister, told Bloomberg that the Ebola strain present in his country is believed to have already taken the lives of 13 people, including a doctor and four nurses. The two most recent cases and the deaths have prompted the government to quarantine the Gera area. Mende punctuated, “No one will enter, no one will leave.”
The latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is its seventh outbreak since the deadly pathogen was first discovered within its borders in 1976. Up until the current West Africa outbreak, which has become the worst in history, the most number of deaths recorded in an outbreak had been 280. That statistic also belonged to Congo.
To date, there are five identified strains of the Ebola virus. Four of the variant strains are known to cause infections in humans. They are: Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Zaire ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, and Taï Forest ebolavirus.
The cases of Ebola virus in D. R. Congo are reportedly of the Sudan virus variant. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa is from the more deadly Zaire strain.
The World Health Organization is conducting independent confirmation tests to determine whether or not those already dead actually had contracted the virus. The Congolese government has set up a laboratory and quarantine station in Gera, which is located roughly 750 miles from the capital at Kinshasa.
The number of deaths reported by the World Health Organization for the current epidemic (posted on Aug. 22) in the West African nations is 1,427. Thus far, all efforts to quell the pathogen's spread have been unsuccessful. The outbreak in the four grouped nations has prompted the neighboring nations of Senegal and Ivory Coast to close its borders to the affected nations.