July 1, 2017 / 8:38 AM / 4 months ago

Congo declares Ebola outbreak over after four deaths

KINSHASA (Reuters) - Democratic Republic of Congo declared its two-month Ebola outbreak officially over on Saturday after 42 days without recording a new case of the disease.

The outbreak in Congo’s remote northeastern forests, a record eighth for the country where the disease was first discovered in 1976, killed four out of the eight people infected, Health Minister Oly Ilunga said in a statement.

“I declare on this day, at midnight, the end of the outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever of the Ebola virus in DRC,” Ilunga said.

Congolese health authorities approved the use of a new experimental vaccine but ultimately declined to deploy it due to the small scale of the outbreak and logistical challenges.

The latest outbreak came a year after the end of the virus’ deadliest episode in West Africa, which killed more than 11,300 people and infected some 28,600 as it swept through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia and caused alarm around the world.

Health officials say northeastern Congo’s remote geography combined with the country’s experience fighting the disease allowed them to gain the upper hand quickly.

“The government of DRC has been very transparent in declaring that there is the outbreak and that really facilitated ... communication and information sharing and rapid action,” Ibrahima Soce Fall, a senior World Health Organization official in Africa, told Reuters last week.

(This version of the story has been refiled to fix date)

Reporting By Aaron Ross; Additional reporting by Clement Uwiringiyimana in Kigali; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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