In a key region, near two international borders, where more than 8 million people live, the ebola virus is spreading. And it might be uncontainable, according to world health officials.
The ebola outbreak is happening in North Kivu province in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo. And although health workers and aid organizations have learned how to quickly contain and treat the virus, there’s a new obstacle this time — this is the first outbreak to happen in an active war zone.
According to the DRC health ministry, teams that have been responding to the ebola outbreak have been attacked three to four times a week on average.
That has made it nearly impossible to follow normal protocol that’s been used during other ebola outbreaks, including vaccinating at risk populations.
Ebola is an infectious disease that affects the way blood clots. It can be fatal if contracted, which typically occurs through direct contact of bodily fluids.
The ebola virus gained significant international media attention after it swept through urban population centers in West Africa starting in 2014. From 2014 to 2016, more than 11,000 people died from the virus according to the Center for Disease Control.
Despite the attention the 2014 outbreak received, the DRC has been battling Ebola for a long time. The first strain of the virus was originally discovered in 1976 in a river in the north of the country, called the Ebola River. But what is the war in the eastern Congo about, and how did this outbreak happen?