DRC declares end to Ebola outbreak. The declaration was made in accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendations, 42 days after the second negative test of the last confirmed case. Between October 8 to December 16, a total of 11 cases (eight confirmed, three probable) including nine deaths and two survivors have been reported from Beni HZ.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) health ministry has on Thursday, December 16, declared the end of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak that has affected Beni Health Zone (HZ) in that country’s North Kivu Province.

Of the nine deaths, seven were in the community and two occurred at the Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC). The overall case fatality ratio (CFR) is 82 percent (9/11) among total cases while 75 percent (6/8) among confirmed cases.

According to the WHO, the outbreak was declared on October 8 when the initial case; a 3-year-old boy developed symptoms including physical weakness, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, breathing difficulty, dark stool and blood in their vomit and later died on October 6.

On October 7, samples were tested using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) at the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) laboratory in Beni. The WHO said these were later sent to the Rodolphe Mérieux INRB Laboratory, Goma on October 8 and EVD was confirmed by RT-PCR on the same day.

This event followed a cluster of three deaths (two children and their father) who were neighbours of the initial case. These three patients died on September 14, 19 and 29 after developing symptoms consistent with Ebola. However, none were tested for the virus.

Full genome sequencing, performed by the INRB in Kinshasa city, from the initial confirmed case indicated that this outbreak was not the result of a new zoonosis from an animal reservoir, but was linked to a persistent Ebola virus infection, said WHO.

During the outbreak period (October 8 to December 16), three (16 percent) of the 19 health areas in Beni HZ reported confirmed cases, namely, Butsili (six cases), Bundji (one case) and Ngilinga (one case). Children under the age of five years accounted for 50 percent (4/8) of all confirmed cases.

To date, all contacts completed their 21-day follow-up period and were discharged from active follow-up. Additionally, from October 8 to December 13, a total of 21,916 alerts were reported from nine HZs including 15,642 from Beni, 21,558 (98 percent) of which were investigated and 1,709 were validated as suspected cases of EVD.

Based on the current risk assessment and prior evidence on Ebola outbreaks, the WHO advised against any restriction of travel and trade to the DRC.