The outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is probably over, with no new cases reported for three weeks, the World Health Organization said Friday.
WHO called the outbreak “largely contained.” But it’s too soon to declare the outbreak fully ended because it’s possible someone has been infected and has not started showing symptom yet, the WHO said.
WHO said 53 people had been infected with the virus and 29 had died. The last confirmed case was treated and released on 12 June.
No one appears to have carried the virus out of the country and WHO is lowering the risk advisory to neighboring countries. The risk of wider export out of the region was never considered high.
“In the absence of ongoing transmission, the probability of exported cases is low and diminishing,” WHO said.
WHO said more than 3,300 people had been given an experimental Ebola vaccine, using a technique called ring vaccination, in which cases of the disease are tracked down and all the people they have been in direct contact with are vaccinated. Then the contacts of those vaccinated people are tracked down and vaccinated. This method eradicated smallpox at the end of the 1970s.
This was the ninth outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Until this one, the outbreaks had been in remote regions and affected usually fewer than 100 people, although a 1995 outbreak sickened 315 people and killed 250 of them and the first outbreak, in 1976, affected 318 people and killed 280.