Emergencies preparedness, response

Plague in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

13 October 2006

WHO has received reports of a suspected pneumonic plague outbreak in 2 health zones in Haut-Uele district, the majority reported from Wamba health zone in Oriental province in the northern part of the country. Six hundred and twenty-six suspected cases including 42 deaths have been reported from 31 July to 8 October. However, the low case fatality ratio is unusual for pneumonic plague which suggests that the number of suspected cases may be an overestimation. Preliminary results from a rapid diagnosis test in the field found three samples positive, out of eight. Additional laboratory confirmation is under way.

A team from the Provincial Health Authority, WHO and Médecins sans Frontières (MSF Switzerland) carried out an initial investigation. Disease surveillance is being strengthened and case management, contact tracing, and sensitization of the affected population are being implemented.