A new outbreak of the Ebola virus represents one part of a wave of disease that threatens to kill millions in Africa. As the recent COVID-19 pandemic so graphically illustrated, the connectivity of the world makes disease a universal concern.
Health officials confirmed a new outbreak of Ebola in the northwest corner of the Democratic Republic of Congo that has already claimed five lives and with nine additional cases identified. A first wave of the disease in the east of the DRC that began in 2018 is ongoing, in which 3,406 cases were reported resulting in 2,243 deaths. This marks the 11th time that Ebola has hit the province since the virus was first discovered in DRC in 1976.
Ebola is a viral hemorrhagic fever with a high risk of death, killing 25% to 90% of those infected, with an average of about 50% typically following 6-16 days after symptoms appear. The virus spreads through direct contact with body fluids, such as blood from infected humans or other animals. Spread may also occur from contact with items recently contaminated with bodily fluids.
Ebola virus is classified as a biosafety level 4 agent, as well as a Category A bioterrorism agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It has the potential to be weaponized for use in biological warfare though it is deemed as unsuitable because the virus becomes ineffective quickly in the open air.
The disease was first identified in 1976. The largest outbreak to date was the epidemic in West Africa, which occurred from December 2013 to January 2016, with 28,646 cases and 11,323 deaths. There are currently two types of vaccines that are in clinical study phases and not yet licensed. They have been used to immunize more than 300,000 people.
The country is hard-pressed, still coping with coronavirus. DRC reported more than 3,000 confirmed cases and 72 deaths. However, like many African countries, DRC conducted extremely limited testing, and observers fear the actual toll may be far higher.
In addition to these two terrifying diseases, the largest outbreak of measles in the world has killed more Congolese than those diseases combined. The World Health Organization (WHO) said there have been 369,520 measles cases and 6,779 deaths since 2019.
“This quadruple threat could prove lethal for millions of children and their families,” said Anne-Marie Connor, national director in DRC for the aid agency World Vision, referring to the two Ebola outbreaks, measles, and COVID-19.
It is interesting to note that similar to the novel coronavirus, the ebola virus is found in bats.
By far the largest epidemic of Ebola was in 2014-2016 in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. More than 28,000 people were infected in that epidemic and more than 11,000 of them died.
Such a pandemic killing a significant portion of the population is prophesied to be a part of the pre-Messiah War of Gog and Magog.
As for those peoples that warred against Yerushalayim, Hashem will smite them with this plague: Their flesh shall rot away while they stand on their feet; their eyes shall rot away in their sockets; and their tongues shall rot away in their mouths. Zechariah 14:12