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EPA

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The DRC’s Ebola outbreak is the second worst in history

More than 2,000 cases of Ebola have been recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo in the last 10 months, officials have said.

Two thirds of the cases have been fatal, the health ministry added.

The outbreak in the east of DR Congo is the second biggest in history, with a significant spike in new cases noted in recent weeks.

But health workers’ attempts to contain the outbreak has been hindered by mistrust and violence.

Despite the fact that more than 1,300 people have died of the disease since August, the charity Oxfam says its teams are meeting people every single day who still don’t believe the virus exists, the BBC’s Africa editor Will Ross reports.

Others don’t trust the health workers, which leads people with symptoms to avoid treatment, thus making it harder to stop the virus spreading.

Currently it is contained within two provinces, but it is becoming harder to monitor the spread of the virus because of violence in the country’s eastern region.

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Media captionTreating Ebola in the DR Congo warzone

Between January and May there were more than 40 attacks on health facilities. However, outbreaks of violence have reduced in recent weeks.

The World Health Organisation said the risk of a global spread is low, but it was very likely cases would spread into neighbouring countries.

Most Ebola outbreaks are over quickly and affect small numbers of people. Only once before has an outbreak been still growing more than eight months after it began – that was the epidemic in West Africa between 2013 and 2016, which killed 11,310 people.

What is Ebola?

  • Ebola is a virus that initially causes sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat.
  • It progresses to vomiting, diarrhoea and both internal and external bleeding.
  • People are infected when they have direct contact through broken skin, or the mouth and nose, with the blood, vomit, faeces or bodily fluids of someone with Ebola.
  • Patients tend to die from dehydration and multiple organ failure.