Tuesday March 19, 2019

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.
WHO Flag, Wikimedia commons

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.

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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)

Next Story

Armed Assailants Attack Newly Reopened Ebola Treatment Center in Congo

The attack in Butembo came in the early-morning hours and left one police officer dead and several workers injured

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congo, ebola treatment
Health workers are seen through a bullet hole left in the window of an Ebola treatment center, which was attacked in early on March 9, 2019, in Butembo, Democratic Republic of the Congo. VOA

Armed assailants on Saturday attacked an Ebola treatment center in the Democratic Republic of the Congo less than a week after it reopened following a previous attack. 

The attack in Butembo came in the early-morning hours and left one police officer dead and several workers injured. 

Butembo Mayor Sylvain Kanyamanda told reporters that security forces had defended the center and wounded one of the attackers. 

World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visited the center several hours later and encouraged health care workers to continue fighting the deadly Ebola virus. 

“It breaks my heart to think of the health workers injured and police officer who died in today’s attack, as we continue to mourn those who died in previous attacks while defending the right to health,” Ghebreyesus told reporters. “We have no choice except to continue serving the people here, who are among the most vulnerable in the world.” 

After the previous attack on the Butembo center, Doctors Without Borders suspended its operations in the city.

congo, ebola treatment
A woman looks at burned equipement in an Ebola treatment center, which was attacked early on March 9, 2019, in Butembo, Democratic Republic of the Congo. VOA

Precautions stir doubts

Anti-Ebola efforts already have faced adversity from residents suspicious of the extensive precautions taken by the health care workers to stop the spread of the highly contagious disease. Because Ebola virus can be transmitted through a victim’s bodily fluids even after death, even burial of the victims requires stringent safety protocols.

Thursday, Doctors Without Borders President Joanne Liu said the containment efforts used to control the latest outbreak of Ebola, which started in August last year, faced a “climate of deepening community mistrust” that was worsened by the use of security guards at treatment centers.

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Congo’s health ministry has warned the attacks in Butembo and on another treatment center in Katwa last month can lead to a “significant upsurge” in new Ebola cases.

More than 86 percent of the confirmed cases over the past three weeks came from Butembo and Katwa, according to the health ministry.

The current outbreak is considered the worst since the two-year outbreak in West Africa that started in 2014 and killed more than 11,000 people. (VOA)