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Monday, July 15th, 2024

WHO investigating spike in DRC Ebola cases, including fear of reinfection

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), long a source of concerted health efforts to combat one of the largest Ebola outbreaks ever recorded, experienced a sharp increase in cases last week — and many may be linked to an individual’s reinfection.

In all, 27 new cases were confirmed last week in the DRC’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces. The previous three weeks saw an average of seven. While the World Health Organization (WHO) notes that these cases were all linked to three transmission chains, most of these cases came from a single chain and one that should be profoundly troubling to health experts.

WHO reported that one individual was a potential source of infection for 17 people. This individual’s infection represents the second time they were documented as infected over six months. An investigation has been launched into the case to understand it better, especially given that while relapse cases are rare but do happen, actual reinfection has never before been documented.

Beyond this turn of events, six new cases emerged among health workers, and the average number of contacts to infected now under surveillance have returned to levels seen before recent security events. As of Dec. 10, 3,340 Ebola cases have been reported in all — 3,222 of them confirmed. Of these, 2,210 people have died as a result. Most of the new infected are linked to known chains of transmission.