The Democratic Republic of the Congo is utilising a combination of new and standard diagnostic tools to control an outbreak of Ebola virus in the country’s Province of Bas-Uele.
Following the report of outbreak, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and other partners such as World Health Organisation (WHO) have immediately deployed laboratory resources to allow rapid detection and response.
A mobile field lab by the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB) was sent to the affected zone of Likati, to complement the testing facilities at the INRB in Kinshasa.
An intensified field alert and response system has been set up in Likati, to facilitate early identification of suspect Ebola cases in the affected zone, quickly analyse samples on site, as well as to follow up on new laboratory-confirmed cases and contacts.
At the INRB laboratory, technicians are using a technology called GeneXpert to test for the Zaire strain of Ebola within one hour, with help from USAID, WHO Canada, the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network (GOARN) and the Emerging and Dangerous Pathogens Laboratory Network (EDPLN).
Originally developed to diagnose tuberculosis, GeneXpert can also be used to detect various pathogens such as in the case of HIV, malaria, STIs and Ebola.
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Further testing to detect other Ebola strains and diseases such as viral haemorrhagic fevers is performed on samples that are found negative for the Zaire strain.
Other tests such as OraQuick, which can analyse blood or saliva samples within half an hour, are also being used.