Wednesday June 26, 2019
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Video- Congo Gets New Medical Tools To Contain Ebola

The outbreak is near Rwanda and Uganda, and people travel back and forth between the countries to sell and trade goods, so they could also spread Ebola.

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Congo, Uganda, ebola
A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a boy who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. VOA

The Democratic Republic of Congo has yet another Ebola outbreak, its 10th since the virus was first identified in 1976. This latest outbreak started in early August in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the fatality rate is 70 percent.

But this outbreak is far different from the one that devastated West Africa a few years ago.

Experimental treatments

Dr. Anthony Fauci at the National Institutes of Health points to experimental treatments for those who have Ebola, one thing that didn’t exist during the outbreak in West Africa.

“We have five therapeutics that are available, three of which were being used actively,” he said.

Cells in our blood, called B cells, fight off infections. Two of the experimental treatments involved copies of antibodies of the B cells that could fight off the Ebola virus.

congo, Ebola
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during an interview in his office at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. VOA

“A person was infected in the 1995 Kikwit outbreak in the DRC,” Fauci said. “The person recovered from Ebola, and we brought the person here to the United States at the NIH. We drew their blood. We cloned B cells and then we made the antibody.”

The treatment is called monoclonal antibody 114. Fauci says it’s being given to Ebola patients in the DRC.

“So far it’s been given to at least 13 people, and 11 of them have been discharged from the hospital,” he said, “which is pretty good odds.”

Many more people need to receive this treatment — and the two others — before we know if any of them actually work.

“We’re proposing a trial to compare one treatment to another treatment to another treatment,” Fauci said.

Another tool that doctors have this time is a vaccine that protects people from getting Ebola. The vaccine wasn’t available during the height of the outbreak in West Africa.

Frustrating factors

But, there are other factors in this outbreak that frustrate the efforts to control the Ebola virus:

The outbreak is in a conflict zone, so health workers can’t get to everyone who needs treatment or a vaccine.

A few people in the city of Butembo, with a population of more than 1 million, have contracted the Ebola virus.

Also Read: North Kivu And Ituri, Congo To Welcome More Than 80,000 Children In This New School Year

The outbreak is near Rwanda and Uganda, and people travel back and forth between the countries to sell and trade goods, so they could also spread Ebola.

Despite medical advances, cases keep rising, although not as fast as they did in West Africa. Still, this has Fauci and others very concerned. (VOA)

Next Story

Mutombo, One of the Greatest Defensive Players in NBA, Records Ebola Messages to Persuade People to Take Precautions

Mutombo, regarded as one of the greatest defensive players in NBA history and a well-known philanthropist

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FILE - Former NBA player Dikembe Mutumbo reacts on the court during the second half of the NCAA Final Four college basketball tournament championship game between Wisconsin and Duke, April 6, 2015, in Indianapolis. VOA

Unable to send disease fighters to help battle one of the deadliest Ebola outbreaks in history, U.S. health officials are turning to basketball hall of famer Dikembe Mutombo for help.

Mutombo, regarded as one of the greatest defensive players in NBA history and a well-known philanthropist in his native Congo, recorded radio and video spots designed to persuade people to take precautions and get care that might stop the disease’s spread.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began posting the spots Monday on its YouTube channel and on the agency’s website . Officials are trying to get radio and TV stations in the Democratic Republic of Congo to air them.

More than 2,200 people have been reported ill — and about 1,500 have died — since an Ebola outbreak was declared in August in eastern Congo. It is the second deadliest outbreak of the lethal virus, which jumps from person to person quickly through close contact with bodily fluids.

Rebel attacks and community resistance have hurt Ebola response work in Congo. A World Health Organization doctor was killed in April, health centers have been attacked and armed groups have repeatedly threatened health workers. Because of safety concerns, the U.S. State Department last year ordered CDC disease specialists to stay out of the outbreak areas.

Mutombo, who moved to the U.S. in the 1980s intending to pursue a medical degree, told The Associated Press he understands where the distrust comes from.

Mutombo, NBA, Ebola
Unable to send disease fighters to help battle one of the deadliest Ebola outbreaks in history, U.S. health officials are turning to basketball hall of famer Dikembe Mutombo for help. Pixabay

“Someone who doesn’t look like you, who doesn’t think like you, who is not from your village, who is from other places, just walk to your village with a nice beautiful white truck and telling you … ‘inject this chemical into your body to protect you from this deadly virus.’ That’s where there’s a fight. This is where we’re having a conflict,” he said.

“How do you that build trust? That’s the big problem we’re having in the Congo,” he said. “I believe as a son of Congo, I think my voice can be heard. Because everyone in the country knows my commitment to the humanity and the health.”

The idea for the PSA was sparked in February when Mutombo, a member of the CDC Foundation’s governing board who lives in Atlanta, was talking with Dr. Robert Redfield, the CDC’s director.

“We are deeply appreciative of his interest to try to get accurate information to the community,” Redfield said.

Also Read- Hundreds of Children Sustained in U.S. Border Detention Facility after Entering the Country without Authorization

Mutombo, who turns 53 on Tuesday, previously did public service announcements focused on polio and yellow fever. A dozen years ago, his foundation established a 300-bed hospital on the outskirts of his hometown of Kinshasa.

The new spots were recorded in Kiswahili, French and Lingala. They talk about recognizing the early signs of Ebola, early treatment and prevention measures. (VOA)