Wednesday November 13, 2019

CDC Sends Staffers to Democratic Republic of Congo Border City to Manage Ebola Cases There

The agency indicated it would send more staffers if armed conflict in the northeastern region subsided

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Congolese people walk near the gate barriers at the border crossing point with Rwanda following its closure over Ebola threat in Goma. VOA

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday a dozen staffers had been sent to a Democratic Republic of Congo border city to manage Ebola cases there. The outbreak, which began a year ago Thursday, has now killed more than 1,800 people. The agency indicated it would send more staffers if armed conflict in the northeastern region subsided to safer levels.

Twelve CDC employees will go to Goma, a major transit city near the Congolese border with Rwanda. On Thursday, the city confirmed its third case of Ebola.

CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield said Thursday on Twitter that armed conflict was hampering health officials’ attempts to manage the outbreak, “increas[ing] the risk of disease spread.”

Henry Walke, CDC director of preparedness and emerging infections, said the agency could add more staff if safety improves enough. The CDC said it is working with the U.S. State Department to determine if it is safe to send more U.S. health workers to areas outside Goma.

CDC, Ebola, Staffers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday a dozen staffers had been sent to a Democratic Republic of Congo border city to manage Ebola cases there. VOA

The announcement came hours after Rwanda briefly closed the border it shares with the Congo over fears the disease would spread.

Witnesses told VOA that authorities prevented most people from crossing between the Rwandan city of Gisenyi and Goma for several hours, after the Ebola virus was detected in Goma. The only people allowed to cross were Congolese nationals in Rwanda returning home.

Rwanda’s ministry of health denied the border was ever closed, and by Thursday afternoon people were crossing between the cities again.

Congolese health officials said the 1-year-old daughter of a man who died of the virus earlier this week is showing symptoms of the disease, in the city’s third confirmed Ebola case. The man was diagnosed a few days after arriving in Goma from a northeastern rural community in Congo’s Ituri province.

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Emergency declared

Earlier this month, a pastor tested positive and later died after arriving in Goma by bus, prompting the World Health Organization (WHO) to declare the Ebola outbreak in Ituri and the conflict-ridden North Kivu province a global health emergency.

The brief shutdown ran counter to a plea made by the international health officials for countries not to close their borders or impose restrictions on travel to the DRC.

WHO spokeswoman Dr. Margaret Harris said Thursday it is vital that more people who are at risk receive the vaccine used to combat the spread of the virus.  She said the vast majority of such people accept the vaccine, but to be effective, “we really need 100 percent acceptance.”

CDC, Ebola, Staffers
The outbreak, which began a year ago Thursday, has now killed more than 1,800 people. VOA

Harris said health officials also struggle to identify those who “hide” and “flee” to avoid “being identified as a high risk contact.” She said many of them “think that being taken to the Ebola treatment center is like being taken to the death house” when the centers actually provide “an incredibly high standard of care.”

Harris said if people experiencing early symptoms such as fevers and headaches report to a center in a timely fashion, there is a “90 percent chance of survival.”

2,600 cases of Ebola

More than than 2,600 cases of Ebola have been reported in Congo since the current outbreak began a year ago, with a death rate of nearly 70 percent.

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This is the 10th outbreak of the virus over the last four decades in the DRC.  It is the second largest outbreak after the historically deadly 2014 epidemic in West Africa that killed more than 11,300 people. (VOA)

Next Story

CDC Investigates The Mysterious Lung Disease

Finally there was a breakthrough in vaping lung injury probe in US

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5, 39 people have died of the lung illness, and 2,051 cases are being probed. Pixabay

The investigation into the mysterious lung illness linked to e-cigarette use in the US has led to the identification of a potential culprit by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

As of November 5, 39 people have died of the lung illness, and 2,051 cases are being probed.

The chemical, vitamin E acetate, is used as an additive in the production of e-cigarette because it resembles THC oil, said CDC which announced the “breakthrough” on Friday.

THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive chemical in cannabis that gives users a high.

“Analyses of bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid samples (or samples of fluid collected from the lungs) of patients with e-cigarette, or vaping, product use associated lung injury identified vitamin E acetate, an additive in some THC-containing products,” CDC said.

The investigation involved analysis of samples of lung fluid from 29 patients. THC was identified in 82 per cent of the samples and nicotine was identified in 62 per cent of the samples.

Lung disease
E- cigarettes may interfere with normal lung functioning. Pixabay

CDC tested for a range of other chemicals that might be found in e-cigarette, or vaping, products, including plant oils, petroleum distillates like mineral oil, MCT oil, and terpenes (which are compounds found in or added to THC products).

But none of these potential chemicals of concern were detected in the fluid samples tested.

The “chemical of concern” that the investigation identified was vitamin E acetate.

“This is the first time that we have detected a potential chemical of concern in biologic samples from patients with these lung injuries. These findings provide direct evidence of vitamin E acetate at the primary site of injury within the lungs,” CDC said.

According to the CDC’s website, Vitamin E is a vitamin found in many foods, including vegetable oils, cereals, meat, fruits and vegetables. It is also available as a dietary supplement and in many cosmetic products like skin creams.

Usually, it does not cause harm when ingested as a vitamin supplement or applied to the skin.

However, previous research suggests when vitamin E acetate is inhaled, it may interfere with normal lung functioning.

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It should, however, be noted that the CDC did not identify vitamin E acetate as the only ingredient linked to the illnesses.

“No one compound or ingredient has emerged as the cause of these illnesses to date; and it may be that there is more than one cause of this outbreak. Many different substances and product sources are still under investigation,” CDC said. (IANS)