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Deadly Disease
A Second Strain of Ebola?

Doctors in the DR Congo have confirmed cases of the Ebola virus in their country—but the strain of the virus appears to be different from the one ravaging West Africa. The BBC reports:

Health Minister Felix Numbi told the BBC that tests on two people had confirmed the disease in Equateur province, where 13 had already died.

But he said the deaths occurred in an isolated area and the disease seemed a different strain to West Africa’s. […]

The cases are the first reported outside West Africa since the outbreak there began.

So far 1,427 people have died from the virus.

This is the seventh time that an Ebola epidemic has occurred in the DR Congo since 1976, when it first appeared there and in Sudan at the same time. The virus is named after the country’s Ebola River.

As West African countries shut their borders, their people descend into panic and despair, and their economies falter, it is alarming to hear of another outbreak in yet another country with a deficient health system. People panic when a passenger with a suspicious fever disembarks in Europe or the United States, but Western countries have a better chance of restraining and counteracting the virus.

While reports don’t seem to confirm conclusively that this strain is different, the response to this outbreak will likely be similar to the one in West Africa—as will the consequences (at least with regard to controlling the spread of disease—we can’t speculate about what a second strain would mean for those researching a cure). When the geographical area that must be quarantined expands, the likelihood of containing the virus declines. Whether it’s one strain or two marching through these ill-prepared countries, the question remains: How hard will it be to seal the borders of an entire continent?

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