On 1 August 2018, the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of the Congo notified WHO of a new outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in North Kivu Province, in the eastern part of the country. The event was initially reported by the North Kivu Provincial Health authority on 28 July 2018 when a cluster of 26 cases of acute haemorrhagic fever, including 20 deaths (mostly in the community), occurred in Mabalako Health Zone during mid-late July 2018. Local health officials additionally identified sporadic, antecedent deaths in the community since May 2018 (tentatively classified as probable cases), which are subject to ongoing investigations to determine if they are related to the current outbreak.
Blood specimens collected from six hospitalized case-patients on 31 August 2018 were shipped to the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale (INRB) in Kinshasa. On 1 August 2018, four of the six blood specimens tested positive for Ebolavirus by GeneXpert automated-polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The Ministry of Health Officially declared the outbreak on 1 August 2018. Further laboratory testing by INRB confirmed Ebolavirus in three of the initial six specimens using conventional PCR. The result of the genetic analysis by INRB confirmed Ebola Zaire strain, but not linked to the Équateur outbreak strain, meaning that we are dealing with a new outbreak.
As of 5 August 2018, a total of 43 EVD cases, including 34 deaths, have been reported. Between 3 and 4 August 2018, 12 specimens tested positive at the field-based laboratory in Beni City, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 16. A total of 27 cases are classified as probable. Of the 34 deaths, seven occurred in confirmed cases. Two healthcare workers have been affected, of which one died. An additional 31 suspected cases are currently being investigated and awaiting laboratory results to confirm or exclude EVD.
Six health zones in two provinces have reported confirmed and probable EVD cases, including Mabalako, Beni, Butembo, Oicha, and Musienene health zones in North Kivu Province and Mandina Health Zone in Ituri Province (Figure 1).
Context The province of North Kivu is among the most populated provinces, with eight million inhabitants. It shares borders with four other provinces (Ituri, South Kivu, Maniema and Tshopo) as well as with Uganda and Rwanda. The subregion has been experiencing intense insecurity and worsening humanitarian crisis, with over one million internally displaced people and a continuous efflux of refugees to the neighbouring countries, including Uganda, Burundi and Tanzania.