Skip to main content
Welcome to
super saver spring
offer ends april 20
save over $140
save over 85%
$0.99
per week for 24 weeks
Welcome to
super saver spring
$0.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

Liberian security forces patrol the Ebola quarantine area of West Point on Sunday. Two cases of Ebola have now been confirmed in Congo.

Reuters

The deadly Ebola virus has emerged in another African country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, killing two people in a remote region where many others have fallen sick, the Congo government says.

Congo becomes the fifth African country where Ebola has killed people this year. But so far the Congo outbreak seems to involve a different strain of the virus, unconnected to the outbreak that has killed at least 1,427 people in West Africa, the government says.

Further tests are under way in Congo and could be released on Monday. They could give a clearer picture of whether the Congo deaths have any connection to the outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea and Nigeria.

Story continues below advertisement

The West African outbreak has been raging out of control for months. A British health worker, the first Briton to be confirmed with Ebola, was airlifted from Sierra Leone on Sunday in a specially equipped military airplane to receive medical treatment at a high-level isolation unit in London.

A growing number of African countries are sealing their borders to the Ebola-hit countries and suspending flights and ship traffic to those countries, raising fears of food and fuel shortages as the crisis deepens.

In the northwest of Congo, at least 13 people have died in recent weeks in an outbreak of an unidentified fever with hemorrhagic symptoms in Equateur province, about 1,200 kilometres from the capital, Kinshasa. The Ebola virus was immediately suspected, but until Sunday the presence of the virus had been unconfirmed.

Last week, the World Health Organization insisted the Congo deaths were not caused by Ebola. But on Sunday, a WHO spokesman said the earlier statement was based on "premature information." Now the global organization says it is waiting for further tests in Congo.

Congo's health minister, Felix Kabange Numbi, told a press conference on Sunday that a government laboratory has tested eight samples from the fever outbreak. Two of the samples tested positive for Ebola, he said.

The outbreak has been "contained" in an area in Equateur province, he said. Other reports said the government is setting up a quarantine area with tight controls for 100 kilometres around the site of the outbreak.

Congo is located in Central Africa and has no shared borders with any of the four West African countries hit by Ebola this year, so it is unclear how the virus could have been transmitted from West Africa. The government says the samples in Congo suggest the presence of the Sudanese strain of the virus, while the West African outbreak was caused by a different strain, the Zaire strain, the most lethal form of the virus.

Story continues below advertisement

One of the two samples in Congo, however, was officially reported to contain a mixture of the Sudanese and Zaire strains – a claim that puzzled many Ebola analysts on Sunday.

Congo was the country where the Ebola virus was first identified in an outbreak near the Ebola River in 1976, when the country was known as Zaire. The latest outbreak this month is the seventh in the country since 1976.

Although rare, it's not unprecedented to have two unconnected Ebola outbreaks in the same year. In 2012, for example, Ebola outbreaks were reported in both Congo and Uganda, although only about 20 people were killed – far fewer than the current West African outbreak, the biggest in history.

As in West Africa, several of the suspected cases in Congo are among health workers who treated people who may have been carrying the Ebola virus.

Since the West African outbreak began in March, more than 225 health workers have fallen ill from the Ebola virus and nearly 130 have died, according to WHO reports.

On the weekend, the WHO disclosed the first Ebola case among the nearly 400 health workers deployed by the organization and its partners in the Ebola-hit countries. The patient is reported to be a Senegalese health expert who was working in Sierra Leone.

Story continues below advertisement

In an earlier case, two U.S. aid workers were flown to Atlanta for treatment after they were infected with Ebola in Liberia. They were given an experimental drug, ZMapp. Both have recovered and were discharged from hospital last week.

There have been widespread concerns that Western patients who catch Ebola are getting better access to treatment than Africans. After the controversy over the treatment of the U.S. cases, the experimental drug was provided to three Ebola patients in Liberia, but supplies of the drug are now exhausted.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies