In a rare moment of good news, the World Health Organisation announced on Thursday an end to an Ebola outbreak that has claimed that lives of 2,280 people in Eastern Congo over the last two years.

The good news was scheduled to be announced in April, but a few days later, another positive case occurred. The country then had to undergo a 42-day period before announcing.

This is the 10th outbreak to occur in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), however, there are other parts of the country that have reported flare-ups. Not to mention that the country, like much of the world, is tackling the novel coronavirus outbreak which emerged late last year.

The eradication of Ebola in Congo’s eastern region offers valuable lessons that can be applied to future epidemics.

“Ending this Ebola outbreak is a sign of hope for the region and the world, that with solidarity and science and courage and commitment, even the most challenging epidemics can be controlled,” said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s regional director for Africa.

Symptoms and Vaccines

The Ebola virus is a viral haemorrhagic fever that affects humans and other primates and is caused by viruses within the genus Ebolavirus. It is spread through direct blood contact and symptoms include fever, sore throat, muscular pain, headaches and internal and external bleeding, with a high-risk of death.

The rVSV-DEBOV vaccine to combat the virus was the first to be approved in the United States in December 2019. There are many more vaccines currently in development around the world.

History of Ebola

Sub-Saharan Africa is no stranger to the Ebola virus with the first outbreak reported in South Sudan and DRC simultaneously in 1976.

The World Health Organisation reported 24 outbreaks between 1976 and 2012. However, the largest and worst outbreak occurred between 2013 and 2016, killing over 11,000 people mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Congo has suffered the most from the epidemic, witnessing 11 outbreaks since 1976 – twice as much as any other country.

Aisha Mohamed