Emergencies preparedness, response

Plague in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

14 June 2006

As of 13 June 2006, WHO has received reports of 100 cases of suspected pneumonic plague, including 19 deaths in Ituri district, Oriental province. Suspected cases of bubonic plague have also been reported but the total number is not known at this time. Preliminary results from rapid diagnostic tests in the area confirm pneumonic plague. Additional laboratory analysis, including tests by culture, is ongoing on 18 samples.

Ituri is known to be the most active focus of human plague worldwide, reporting around 1000 cases a year. The first cases in this outbreak occurred in a rural area, in the Zone de Santé of Linga, in mid-May.

A team from Médecins sans Frontières (Switzerland), WHO and Ministry of Health has been in the area to assess the situation and provide support to the local health authorities. Isolation wards have been established to treat patients; close contacts are being traced and receiving chemoprophylaxis. However, control measures have been difficult to implement because of security concerns in the area.

For more information. See fact sheet on plague .