- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 8, 2018

The Democratic Republic of the Congo declared a new outbreak of Ebola Tuesday, after two samples taken from patients tested positive for the deadly disease that killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa and sparked a worldwide panic earlier this decade.

The World Health Organization said the country’s health ministry uncovered the cases in Bikoro, which is located in the northwestern part of the country.

Scientists confirmed Ebola in two out of five specimens collected from patients, though it is gathering more, since the outbreak could be more widespread.

There have been 21 suspected cases of viral hemorrhagic fever in the affected region, including 17 deaths.

The WHO released $1 million from its contingency fund to try and control the outbreak, using lessons it learned in stamping out another bout of Ebola in Congo in 2017.

“Our top priority is to get to Bikoro to work alongside the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and partners to reduce the loss of life and suffering related to this new Ebola virus disease outbreak,” said Dr. Peter Salama, WHO deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response. “Working with partners and responding early and in a coordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease.”

Ebola is a serious illness that is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads from human to human through the bodily fluids of people who exhibit symptoms. About half of those who contract Ebola die from it.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak recorded in the Congo since 1976, when the disease was discovered there.

WHO and local officials were able to quickly control last year’s outbreak in an isolated part of the country, though the 2013-2016 swept through densely populated areas, devastating Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone and sparking a U.S. debate about travel bans and whether to quarantine returning health workers.

Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian man, traveled to Texas in late 2014 and was admitted to the hospital wth Ebola-like symptoms, though he was released after doctors missed warning signs.

He became the first person to test positive for the disease on U.S. soil and later died in Dallas.

Two nurses who cared for him contracted Ebola, but recovered.

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