315 cases with 254 deaths occurred in 1995 when Ebola broke out in the Kitwit area of the Democratic Republic of Congo which was known as Zaire at the time. The outbreak was one of the largest since the first documented outbreak in 1976 when Zaire witnessed 318 cases of the virus.
The source of infection was traced to a single index patient who fell ill on the 6th of January 1995 and died in a local hospital on the 13th of the same month. This resulted in direct infections of his family members and a secondary wave of at least 10 infections in his extended family. It is assumed that the index patient contracted the infection from a natural reservoir since no prior contact with an Ebola carrier was found.
Several deaths occurred in the initial village and nearby villages where the cause of death was noted as dysentery. It is thought that several of these cases were in fact the result of the virus but were not recognized as such until much later in May when it was confirmed. It is very likely that at least a portion of these cases formed part of the initial transmission chain for the outbreak.
May 1995 saw the involvement of international partners and health organizations in an effort to contain the outbreak. The last case was documented in June 1995 however at least one asymptomatic case appears to have occurred after the last reported case. Officials attributed the successful containment to patient isolation, contact tracing and education. The outbreak occurred 21 years after the first documented outbreak raising significant awareness about the disease and the potential for the virus to have a widespread impact beyond the original scope of understanding. The similarity in case counts and mortality rates between the two outbreaks confirmed that the virus remained a serious threat.