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Ebola outbreak ends in Congo

Ebola outbreak ends in Congo
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A small flare-up of the Ebola virus has been contained in an eastern province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), international health officials said Monday.

The outbreak, the 12th known epidemic in the DRC in the last 45 years, infected 12 people and killed six in North Kivu Province, according to the Ministry of Health. The country has not identified any new cases in the last 42 days, the length of time it takes for an Ebola outbreak to formally be declared over.

Genetic sequencing showed the virus was linked to a previous outbreak that tore through North Kivu and a neighboring province beginning in 2018. That outbreak killed more than 2,000 people in what became the second-largest Ebola epidemic in modern history.

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The first case in the more recent outbreak occurred in a woman whose husband had survived Ebola in the last episode. The fact that Ebola continued to exist within his system shocked virologists, who are still learning about one of the world’s most deadly viruses.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement it had helped the Ministry of Health establish a mobile genetic sequencing lab in Goma, the regional capital of North Kivu, to help understand more about the ability of the Ebola virus to survive for long periods of time even in people who have recovered.

Congolese officials, nongovernmental organizations and the World Health Organization deployed a vaccine against the Ebola virus developed by the pharmaceutical manufacturer Merck to contain the new outbreak. More than 1,600 people who had come into contact with those who contracted the disease, or who had come into contact with the initial contacts, received the vaccine.