Monday 22 October 2018
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ZongoNews Radio

Ebola: Previous outbreaks

As the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) declares that the latest epidemic of Ebola is officially over, here is a recap of previous major outbreaks of the disease:

1976: First known outbreak

Ebola was first identified in central Africa in 1976 and named after a river in northern DRC, then known as Zaire.

It claimed 431 lives that year: 280 in the DRC and 151 across the border in Sudan, in an area that is today part of South Sudan, according to the US Centres for Disease Control (CDC).

Three years later the virus re-emerged in the same region of southern Sudan, killing 22.

1995: Congo again

In May 1995 Ebola struck again in the DRC, in the forested region of Kikwit in its southwest. It spread quickly and lethally, killing 250 people from 315 reported cases.

2000-2001: Uganda

In September 2000 the Sudan strain of Ebola spread for the first time to Uganda, infecting 425 people in the northern and western regions, of whom 224 died.

2001-2003: Gabon, Congo

Affected by the Zaire strain of Ebola on three occasions between 1994 and 1997 with nearly 100 people dying in total, Gabon saw a sudden rise in cases between October 2001 and May 2002.

The epidemic hit the province of Ogooue-Ivindo in the northeast, an area which had previously been infected. Fifty-three of 65 people reported to have caught the virus eventually died.

It spread to the Republic of Congo, DRC’s neighbour, where it killed 43 in 2001 and more than 150 over 2003.

2013-2015: deadliest

The deadliest epidemic of Ebola broke out in West Africa in December 2013 and lasted more than two years, killing more than 11 300 of the 29 000 recorded cases.

Around 99% of the victims came from three neighbouring countries. In Guinea, where the epidemic started, more than 2 500 died, while in Sierra Leone more than 3 900 perished and Liberia lost around 4 800 people.

This toll, which the WHO says is an underestimate, was seven times the total number of deaths in previous epidemics since the virus was identified.

2018: DRC’s ninth outbreak

This year’s outbreak in the DRC was the ninth in the country since 1976.

The latest episode, publicly declared on May 8, resulted in 33 deaths, according to DRC health authorities.

It was first recorded in the Bikoro area in remote Equateur province before spreading to the city of Mbandaka.

The virus previously killed 187 people in the country in 2007 and 43 in 2012.