On 8 May 2018, the Ministry of Health (MOH) of the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in Bikoro Health Zone, Equateur Province. This is the ninth outbreak of Ebola virus disease over the last four decades in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with the most recent occurring in May 2017.
On 3 May 2018, the Provincial Health Division of Equateur reported 21 cases of fever with haemorrhagic signs including 17 community deaths in the Ikoko-Impenge Health Area in this region. A team from the Ministry of Health, supported by WHO and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) visited the Ikoko-Impenge Health Area on 5 May 2018 and detected five active cases, two of whom were admitted to Bikoro General Hospital and three who were admitted in the health centre in Ikoko-Impenge. Samples were taken from each of the five active cases and sent for analysis at the Institute National de Recherche Biomédicale, Kinshasa on 6 May 2018. Of these, two tested positive for Ebola virus, Zaire ebolavirus species, by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) on 7 May 2018 and the outbreak was officially declared on 8 May 2018.
As of 11 May 2018, there are a total of 34 cases, with 18 deaths (case fatality rate 52.9%), among which two cases are confirmed, 14 suspected and 18 probable. Three health workers have been affected, with two suspected cases and a probable case who died. So far, 75 contacts are being monitored by the field teams. The province of Equateur covers an area of 130 442 km2 and has an estimated population of 2 543 936 people, it has 16 health zones and 284 health centers. However, the affected health area of Bikoro covers 1,075 km2 and has a population of 163, 065 inhabitants. It has three hospitals and 19 health centers, most of which have limited functionality. Medical supplies are provided by international agencies, but stockouts of medical supplies are common. The village of Ikoko-Impenge is located 45 km from the central office of the Bikoro area and is not accessible by road, and falls outside the telephone network. However, there is an airstrip 8 km from Bikoro.
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