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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Congo health ministry confirms 2 Ebola cases in new outbreak

FILE - In this undated colorized transmission electron micrograph file image made available by the CDC shows an Ebola virus virion. Health authorities are investigating nine suspected cases of Ebola in a remote corner of northern Congo, including two deaths, the country's health minister said Friday May 12, 2017. (Frederick Murphy/CDC via AP, File) ORG XMIT: XJD101 (Frederick Murphy / AP)
By Saleh Mwanamilongo and Carley Petesch Associated Press

KINSHASA, Congo – Congo’s government on Tuesday declared a new outbreak of Ebola in the country’s rural northwest, after two cases of the deadly virus were confirmed there.

Congo’s Health Ministry said that of the five samples sent to the National Institute of Biological Research in Kinshasa, two came back positive for the Zaire strain of Ebola in Bikoro in Equateur Province.

The samples were gathered after the Equateur Province Health Ministry notified Kinshasa on May 3 of some 21 cases of a hemorrhagic fever in the Ikoko Impenge area, including 17 deaths, according to the World Health Organization and Congo’s government. The hemorrhagic fever could be different from Ebola.

A team was sent by the World Health Organization and Doctors Without Borders over the weekend to investigate and strengthen coordination. The five new cases were then identified and sent to the laboratory, Congo’s government said.

Since that time, no deaths have been reported among those hospitalized or among health workers treating the ill, it said.

A team of experts will go to Bikoro on Wednesday to implement measures to avoid further spread of the disease, said the ministry statement. The team will also investigate how the outbreak first started, it said.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976, when the deadly disease was first identified. The most recent outbreak was in May 2017 that killed four of the eight people infected in Congo’s Bas-Uele province in the northeast. That outbreak was declared over in July 2017.