Sunday September 23, 2018

WHO Teams Working To Combat Ebola Outbreak in DRC

The WHO said it is deploying epidemiologists, clinicians and infection prevention and control experts to DRC.

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The 71st World Health Assembly was held last week in Geneva and was attended by delegations from all WHO member states.
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Medical teams from the World Health Organization arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo to combat a new Ebola virus outbreak, as government officials in the region put plans in place to contain the outbreak.

The World Health Organization announced Tuesday that DRC is suffering a new outbreak in its Bikoro area in Equateur Province and said it has released $1 million from its emergency fund to support response to the crisis. The announcement came after 17 people died of suspected cases recently and health officials confirmed that at least two of the dead were infected with Ebola.

Nigeria’s Health Minister Isaac Adewole said Wednesday that Nigeria is stepping up its screening of visitors from DRC and will consider sending health teams to Congo help manage the outbreak.

The Ebola virus can transfer from monkeys and bats to humans, among whom it can spread rapidly. In many cases, the hemorrhagic fever resulting from the Ebola infection is fatal.
Ebola Outbreak in DRC, VOA

The WHO said it is deploying epidemiologists, clinicians and infection prevention and control experts to DRC.

The last Ebola outbreak in DRC was in 2017 in Likati Health Zone, when 4 of 8 infected people died. This is the ninth Ebola outbreak since the virus was discovered in 1976 and named for a local river, the Ebola.

Also Read: A Drug That Can Potentially Cure Hair Loss

None of the Ebola outbreaks in DRC were connected to the massive outbreak that took place recently in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. It lasted from 2014 to 2016 and killed more than 11,000 people. The WHO was criticized for its slow response to that outbreak.

The Ebola virus can transfer from monkeys and bats to humans, among whom it can spread rapidly. In many cases, the hemorrhagic fever resulting from the Ebola infection is fatal.

A new, experimental vaccine has been shown to be effective against the virus, although supplies are limited. (VOA)

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Progress Has Been Made in Containing Ebola in Congo: WHO

Some people are reluctant to go to treatment centers for care. Others are unwilling to change traditional burial practices.

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Ebola Congo, WHO
Photo taken Sept 9, 2018, shows health workers walking with a boy suspected of having the Ebola virus at an Ebola treatment centre in Beni, Eastern Congo. VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports substantial progress is being made in containing the spread of the Ebola virus in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It warns, however, that new hotspots are appearing. The WHO says the number of confirmed and probable cases of Ebola in the DRC stands at 143, including 97 deaths.

WHO officials say they are pleased with the progress being made in limiting the spread of the Ebola virus, but that the outbreak of this fatal disease in Congo’s conflict-ridden North Kivu and Ituri provinces remains active and vigilance must be maintained.

Ebola, WHO
Congolese health workers register people and take their temperatures before they are vaccinated against Ebola in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

WHO reports the situation in Mangina, the initial epicenter of the epidemic in North Kivu, is stabilizing. WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told VOA there are no security problems there, so health workers are able to safely access the area and treat those affected by the disease. But there are exceptions.

“Immediately to the east is an inaccessible area. This region is in a security level four, which is one of the highest in the U.N. security phasing system. For example, the road from Beni to Oicha is in the ‘red zone’… So, in some places, we are really able to move to work. In some other places, it is more difficult,” she said.

Ebola, WHO
A health care worker from the World Health Organization, left, gives an Ebola vaccination to a front line aid worker who will then vaccinate people who might potentially have the virus, in Mbandaka, Congo. VOA

Chaib said the cities of Beni and Butembo have become the new hotspots, noting that Butembo is in the red zone.

The WHO spokeswoman said there is significant risk that Ebola could spread there, and health workers have to remain on top of the many challenges facing them.

Ebola Congo, WHO
A Congolese health worker checks the temperature of a man before the launch of vaccination campaign against the deadly Ebola virus near Mangina village, near the town of Beni in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. VOA

Among the challenges is a growing resistance in some communities to measures used to contain the virus.

Also Read: Lowering The Community Resistance To Ebola is Extremely Important: UNICEF

For example, Chaib said, some people are reluctant to go to treatment centers for care. Others are unwilling to change traditional burial practices, such as touching the bodies of those who have died from Ebola. WHO warns this is one of the surest ways of spreading the infection. The outbreak in the DRC is the 10th since Ebola was first identified in 1976. (VOA)