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BBC´s coverage of this story
Bubonic plague is endemic in parts of Africa, including the DRC, but pneumonic plague, which occurs when the bacteria infects the lung, has a very high fatality rate and is "invariably" deadly when left untreated, the WHO said.
WHO spokeswoman Christine McNab said: "Normally it can be easily controlled with antibiotics.
"In this case, because it is in an area which is relatively unstable, there hasn't been any opportunity to initiate plague control activities, so the outbreak has grown relatively large."