The World Health Organization on Sunday confirmed a second case of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo, following a recent outbreak of over a dozen other suspected cases this week.
There are 19 suspected and confirmed cases in the outbreak so far, including three people who have died, WHO’s Congo spokesman Eugene Kabambi told Reuters.
WHO declared the outbreak on Friday, when the organization confirmed a first case of the disease in Congo’s Bas-Uele province, a remote area in the country’s north bordering the Central African Republic.
The first case was a 45-year-old man who died on April 22 on his way to the hospital, the organization explained on Saturday. A person who took care of the man, as well as the driver who transported him to the hospital, both subsequently became ill and passed away. It is unclear whether the driver or the care giver was the case confirmed on Sunday.
Ebola spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids of infected people or with contaminated surfaces and materials. Officials and health workers are currently trying to locate 125 people who may be at risk of infection.
According to the WHO, news about the Congo outbreak was slow to emerge because of the limited transport and communication networks in the region. It takes about three days to reach the area from the capital Kinshasa.
Kabambi told HuffPost on Friday that the remoteness of the location poses logistical challenges, it also may help contain the disease. “On the one hand, it’s lucky because the illness probably can’t spread on a wide scale. But on the other hand, it’s far from medical access,” Kabambi told HuffPost on Friday.
The first Ebola outbreaks took place in 1976, when two simultaneous outbreaks were discovered in isolated areas of Congo and South Sudan. Since then, Congo has seen seven other outbreaks. The most recent one started on Aug. 24, 2014 in Equateur province. By the end of the outbreak in November that year, dozens of people had died.
At the time, a different and far more complex outbreak was raging in West Africa. More than 11,000 people died of Ebola between 2013 and 2016, most of them in Guinea, Sierra Leona and Liberia. The West Africa outbreak was the deadliest outbreak of Ebola since its discovery.