Plague hits Ituri Province in the DRC with a CFR rate of 11.1 percent

Plague hits Ituri Province in the DRC with a CFR rate of 11.1 percent

Kanako Mita and Sawako Utsumi

Modern Tokyo Times

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is witnessing a high number of plague cases in the province of Ituri. Historically, the bubonic plague conjures extreme images of a potent menace killing vast numbers of people. However, while no longer the killer disease of distant centuries, it is still killing at a high incident rate when cases emerge in the DRC.

Last year, outbreaks of the plague also emerged in China and Mongolia. Hence, it is still a menace that can suddenly kill quickly if not treated immediately. 

Garda World reports, “Bubonic plague occurs when the bacteria infects a person’s lymph nodes. This form of plague is not easily transmissible from person to person. However, when the bacteria spreads through the bloodstream to the lungs, pneumonic plague can transmit directly from person to person via respiratory droplets containing the plague bacteria.”

In the province of Ituri, the plague has been reported 117 times in the first six months of this year. Of these cases, 13 deaths are known to have occurred from either bubonic or pulmonary plague. Therefore, the case fatality rate (CFR) is 11.1 overall in the province of Ituri. 

However, the CFR rate in the health zone of Fataki is even higher. Of the 37 known cases this year, 12 people have died. Thus the CFR rate is 32.4 percent. Equally worrying, the plague didn’t occur in this health zone in the last decade. 

Last year, the World Health Organization reported, “Since the beginning of 2020, Ituri Province has reported a total of 64 plague cases and 14 deaths (CFR:21.8%) in five health zones, namely Aungba, Linga, Rethy, Aru and Kambala health zones. This compares against 10 cases and 5 deaths (lethality 50.0%) during the same period in 2019, all in a single zone.”

Hence, the plague is spreading to other health zones within the province of Ituri. By the end of last year, the total number of cases reported reached approximately 450. 

Lee Jay Walker says, “The DRC is blighted by ethnic and religious massacres, millions of internal refugees, a weak infrastructure, and various health problems. This includes the Bubonic Plague, Covid-19, Ebola, HIV, Malaria, Measles, and other issues.”

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