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On July 24, the World Health Organization announced the end of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Equateur Province that had infected 54 people and killed 33. Eight days later, the Congolese government reported that the virus had struck again, some 1,500 miles away, in North Kivu, an active conflict zone. As health officials race to assess the complexity of this new threat, the rare occurrence of back-to-back outbreaks underscores the growing danger that infectious diseases like Ebola pose to humanity.
The new outbreak is Congo’s tenth scrap with Ebola since the virus was discovered in 1976, and experience has been an exacting but effective teacher. In May, the Congolese government recognized the risk in Equateur immediately and alerted the WHO. Within hours of receiving laboratory confirmation, the WHO activated its emergency management system, which directs resources and personnel from across its organization to where they are needed. Within