Africa

Second Ebola case confirmed in eastern Congo

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A health worker fills a syringe with Ebola vaccine before injecting it to a patient, in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, August 5, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

BENI, Democratic Republic of Congo, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Health officials in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo confirmed a second case of Ebola on Thursday and said the latest flare-up of the virus appeared to be linked to the massive 2018-2020 outbreak.

A 42-year-old woman tested positive in the city of Beni on Wednesday, city health official Michel Tosalisana said. read more

The first confirmed case was ayoung boy who died of the diseaselast week. Three of the boy's neighbours also died last month after after experiencing symptoms associated with Ebola, which can include severe vomiting, haemorrhaging and diarrhoea. read more

"So far there have been more than 170 contacts listed around the first case, and with the confirmation of the second case, the listing of contacts will continue," Tosalisana told Reuters.

Steve Ahuka, a senior official at Congo's biomedical laboratory, told Reuters that preliminary sequencing indicated that the first confirmed case was the Zaire strain of the virus and was genetically linked to the 2018-2020 epidemic.

That oubreak, centred in Beni and the nearby city of Butembo, killed more than 2,200 people and infected more than 1,000 others.

Another flare-up linked to that outbreaklasted from February to May and killed six people. Flare-ups can be caused by latent infections that linger in the semen of survivors.

The two available vaccines against Ebola, manufactured by Merck (MRK.N) and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), protect effectively against the Zaire strain and have been used to quickly bring other recent outbreaks under control.

Medics began vaccinating contacts of the first case in Beni on Wednesday using the Merck shot.

Reporting by Fiston Mahamba; Writing by Cooper Inveen and Aaron Ross; Editing by Toby Chopra, Andrew Heavens and Giles Elgood

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