The Democratic Republic of Congo's Ebola epidemic has passed a thousand cases, according to the country's health ministry.  With a death toll of 634, it is the world's second-worst outbreak.

"The total is now 1,009 cases," the ministry said in a statement, but it added: "the response, led by the Health Ministry in collaboration with its partners, has limited the geographical spread."

Officials have recorded 25 new Ebola infections from towns and cities across North Kivu and Ituri provinces, including two in Beni and one in Lubero.  The rest of the cases originated in the previous hot spots, including Katwa and Butembo.  Last Wednesday, authorities confirmed a case of Ebola in Bunia, another city of close to one million people.  The hemorrhagic fever, which causes severe vomiting, diarrhea, and bleeding, is easily spread by body fluids.  The current fatality rate is about 60 percent.

The Kivu Outbreak began on 1 August of last year.  Health workers have been better prepared than ever for this latest epidemic, armed with new technologies like a trial vaccine, experimental treatments, and well-equipped mobile units for treating patients. 

But each advance has been met with a setback:  The outbreak is taking place in an area where armed groups have been fighting and treatment centers have come under attack from ill-informed locals.  It got so bad that Medecins Sans Frontiers suspended its activities at the epicentre of the outbreak last month.

And DRC health minister Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga said that despite the dedication and bravery, health care workers aren't the key to ending the outbreak.

"The response begins at the level of the mother who brings her sick child to the health center and accepts that a sample is taken for the laboratory,ga said, "It is also based on the head of the family, who accepts that all family members are vaccinated after one of them has been infected with Ebola."