The scary Ebola virus is spreading in the Congo, leading to 31 deaths in the northeastern region and 38 more people suspected of having the deadly disease, according to the World Health Organization.
In this particular outbreak the first person identified with the disease was a health worker, who may have caught it from a patient. But officials haven’t yet identified the “index case”—the primary case of infection in the general population—and traced that person’s ensuing contacts.
The Ebola virus has no cure and is deadly in 40 to 90 percent of cases. It causes severe internal bleeding and can be spread by close contact with a carrier.
This is the third serious outbreak of Ebola in Africa this summer. An outbreak in Uganda in July killed as many as 14 people, while anoutbreak in the Congo in August killed as many as 10.
This is the first Ebola outbreak in the Haut-Uele territory in northeastern Congo.
Ironically, health officials believe that the funeral practices in the region of the Congo may be contributing to the spread of the disease. When someone dies, the corpse is washed and displayed to show love and respect for the deceased, but it’s bringing people into close contact with the virus.
Doctors Without Borders, along with WHO and Congo’s health ministry, has been conducting education campaigns in the area to warn people of the risks linked to this practice.
“The situation is serious,” Fadela Chaib, a spokesperson for the WHO, told reporters, according to the Associated Press.