Ebola outbreak in Congo spreads to urban area

18 May, 2018, 15:05 | Author: Keith Rowe
  • Congo's Ebola risk 'very high' as confirmed virus cases rise

Health workers are sprayed with chlorine after leaving an isolation ward with suspected Ebola patients at Bikoro Hospital - the epicenter of the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The World Health Organization says the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has spread to an urban area.

"At least 44 people are believed to have been infected" during a new outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, says the BBC, and "23 deaths are now being investigated".

"This is a major, major game-changer in the outbreak", Dr. Peter Salama, WHO's emergency response chief, warned on Thursday after the first urban case was announced.

The WHO said on Thursday that an Ebola case had been confirmed in Mbandaka, a city in the northwest of the country with a population of around a million. CDC epidemiologist Pierre Rollin, an Ebola expert said that the CDC would be sending in teams to be prepared for a long term aid. Fourteen cases have been confirmed with laboratory tests.

Since the outbreak began, there has been a total of 45 cases: 14 confirmed, 21 probable and 10 suspected.

"The remote location of the outbreak hampers both the information about the outbreak and interventions to control it", said Cyrus Shahpar, director of epidemic prevention at Resolve to Save Lives, a New York-based organisation.


Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million people, is in a busy travel corridor in Congo's northwest Equateur province and is upstream from the capital, Kinshasa, a city of about 10 million. "So far, all of them have occurred in remote and isolated areas, as was the case a year ago in Likati, when the epidemic didn't spread." explains Henry Gray, MSF Emergency Coordinator in Mbandaka.

The WHO will be deploying about 30 experts to scrutinise and inspect the city, is working along with the Ministry of Health and also believes in engaging with the communities to prevent and treat and report about new cases.

Chief executive Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visited the affected Bikoro area last weekend, saying he hoped for a "better way out" of the latest outbreak in DRC.

Ebola is an infectious illness that causes internal bleeding and often proves fatal.

Results of a trial using the ring vaccination technique with the Merck shot, which is known as VSV-EBOV, in Guinea in West Africa in 2015 showed 100 percent protection in those vaccinated immediately. The vaccine is thought to be effective against the Zaire strain of Ebola found in Congo. The WHO has called an emergency meeting over a health crisis of potentially "international concern".

The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said the first suspected victim was a police officer who died in a health center in the village of Ikoki-Impenge, near Bikoro.

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