Nov. 29 (UPI) -- At least 245 people have died from the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo in recent weeks, the country's health ministry said Thursday, making it the second-deadliest outbreak of the disease in history.
Since August, there have been 426 cases of the virus, 379 of which are confirmed and 47 that are probable. Of the deaths, 198 are confirmed to be from Ebola and 47 are probable. Another 87 cases were under investigation.
"This is a milestone nobody wanted to hit," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told CNN.
The worst Ebola outbreak in history came in 2014, when it killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa.
In a situation report released Wednesday, WHO said it is "confident that the outbreak can be contained despite ongoing challenges."
WHO said there was a high risk of the outbreak spreading to other provinces in the DRC and other countries. Neighboring Uganda intensified preparedness activities, including vaccinations, in case of an outbreak there.
The strategy in Uganda involves an experimental vaccine, which officials say will not be given to the public. More than 26,000 people in the DRC have been inoculated in a "ring vaccination" policy in which those who have been in contact with an Ebola patient are vaccinated. People who have been in contact with those persons are then also vaccinated. The tactic helped eradicate smallpox in the 1970s.
The spread of Ebola in the DRC is worsened by an ongoing civil war between militant groups and government forces. The conflict slows healthcare workers' attempts to fight the virus.
Ebola was first identified in central Africa in 1976. In 2000 and 2001, 574 people were infected and 261 died in Uganda. More than 28,000 people were infected and 11,000 died in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea between 2014 and 2016.