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September 2, 2014


Historical Dictionary of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Beginning in 1950, telephone line systems were established in some parts of the country, notably Kinshasa, Bas-Congo, and Katanga, but their effectiveness was hindered by heavy rains and dense forest. In the 1970s, the government began a program to link major urban centers through a combination of long lines, microwave towers, and satellite stations.

First Outbreaks of Ebola

  • 1972. Retrospective Serologic Identification

    In February 1977, serum from medical personnel who could have come in contact with Ebola were tested for Ebola antibodies. The serum from a Tandala Hospital physician tested positive. In May of 1972, this physician had lacerated his finger while performing an autopsy on a Zairois bible school student. The student died of a hemorrhagic illness that was clinically diagnosed as yellow fever. The physician became ill 12 days after lacerating his finger. In 1977, his hospital records were reviewed, and his symptoms were characteristic of Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever.


    • Heymann, D.L. et al. “Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever: Tandala, Zaire, 1977-1978.” Journal of Infectious Diseases. Vol. 142. No. 3. September 1980. 372-376.


  • 1976. Yambuku, Zaire.

    EBO-Z surfaced shortly after the first Ebola outbreak in Sudan and killed 280 of the 318 people it infected. On September 1, 1976, four days after returning from a tour of northern Zaire, the index case, a 44 year-old male teacher at the Mission School, sought medical intervention for a febrile illness he thought to be malaria. He received a parenteral injection of chloroquine (an anti-malaria drug) from Yambuku Mission Hospital (YMH). YMH did not use disposable needles or sterilize the needles between uses. Parenteral injection was the primary mode of administering nearly all medicines, and Ebola-Zaire (EBO-Z) was quickly disseminated into the surrounding villages serviced by YMH. After 11 of its 17 staff members fell ill with EHF, YMH closed on September 30, 1976, 29 days after the index case received his injection of chloroquine. The WHO International Commission was formed on October 18th, and research teams were mobilized on October 30th. The last case of EBO-Z died on November 5, 1976. Transmission of Ebola during this outbreak occurred mainly through the use of contaminated needles to administer medicine.


    • International Commission. “Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Zaire, 1976.” Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 56 (2):271-293 (1978).


From → Biology, Geophysics

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