Congo-Kinshasa: Ebola Outbreak Spreads

18 May, 2018, 14:27 | Author: Lillian Steele
  • В Конго фиксируют новые вспышки Эболы

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization delivered 4,000 injections of an experimental vaccine with proven efficacy in recent trials, with more batches expected soon.

Cases emerged in a rural area with one now confirmed in the city of Mbandaka.

The disease has spread from a rural area of the country's Equateur Province where it was first reported last week to the city of Mbandaka, which has a population of more than 1,000,000 and is on the banks of the Congo River which connects several countries.

The city is on the banks of the Congo River which connects to the capital Kinshaha, hundreds of kilometres to the south, and also to surrounding countries, increasing the risk of a national and regional outbreak, according to World Health Organization officials.

The first human outbreaks of Ebola occurred in 1976, one in the north of what is now Congo and in the region that is now South Sudan. There were 21 other probable cases and 10 more suspected cases of Ebola.

"Depending on the need, we may be preparing for a longer term", said CDC epidemiologist Pierre Rollin, an Ebola expert who was in West Africa during the 2014 epidemic. Only one of the 25 deaths actually has been confirmed by the health ministry as Ebola. Rapid detection of symptoms, immediate isolation of suspected cases and safe burial for those who succumb to the disease are paramount in ending an outbreak.

Ebola is lethal and highly contagious, which makes it hard to contain - especially in urban environments where people are mobile and come into more contact with others.

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Tens of millions of people live along the river, and the capitals of Congo, the Central African Republic and Congo Republic lie along it and its tributaries.

"We're certainly not trying to cause any panic in the national or global community", he said. "The potential for an explosive increase in cases is now there", he said.

The city of nearly 1.2 million is on the Congo River, a busy travel corridor in the vast country and upstream from the capital, Kinshasa, a city of about 10 million. Of the 44 people believed to be infected, 23 have died.

The UN health agency is deploying around 30 experts to conduct surveillance in Mbandaka and is working with the DRC's Ministry of Health advising communities on prevention, treatment and reporting of new cases.

Those exposed to the suspected Ebola cases will for the first time in Congo receive Ebola vaccinations, the health minister said. The WHO has sent 4,000 doses to Congo and said it will dispatch thousands more as needed in the coming days.

There is, however, a logistical challenge as the Canadian vaccine, which is called rVSV-ZEBOV, needs to be stored at minus 80 degrees Celsius and is only available in the capital, Health Minister Oly Ilunga told Reuters. The virus initially is transmitted to people from wild animals, including bats and monkeys.

Without preventive measures, the virus can spread quickly and is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.

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