Scientists fear a new Ebola strain might emerge in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) if two versions of the disease mix together to form a new, potentially deadlier version.
Ebola is a highly contagious infectious disease that has a fatality fate of around 50 per cent. There have been multiple outbreaks across Africa in the past decade.
The DRC government earlier last month (June 2020) declared an end to the eastern outbreak – the tenth in the country – but World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned there was “still potential for flare-ups” of this strain, calling for rapid response teams to remain in place.
The emergence of the northwestern Ebola virus strain also raises the question of whether Ebola survivors could again contract the disease. Studies suggest survivors develop antibodies that can last 10 years, possibly longer, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but it is not known whether people can become infected with a different species of Ebola virus.