Democratic Republic of Congo confirms Ebola outbreak less than a year after it was declared free of the disease
Al Jazeera has reported the World Health Organization, WHO, said that it was taking steps to help deal with a new outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s rural northwest, after two cases of the deadly virus were confirmed in the market town of Bikoro.
Congo’s Health Ministry said two of the five samples it sent to the National Institute of Biological Research in Kinshasa, came back positive for the disease.
The samples were gathered after health officials in Equateur Province notified Kinshasa on May 3 of about 21 cases of a hemorrhagic fever in the Ikoko Impenge area, including 17 deaths, according to WHO and Congo’s government.
The Washington Post wrote that the WHO had announced its plan to send the experimental vaccine to northwest Congo, where there have been about 32 suspected or confirmed cases since early April and 18 deaths.
According to thewhistler.ng the experimental vaccine is called “rVSV-ZEBOV”, for protection against the ebola virus disease.
Peter Salama, the WHO’s deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response hopes the DRC officials will give the WHO permission to deploy the experimental vaccine within a short time frame. Salama has said the vaccine would be complicated to use. The heat of the Congo presents a challenge in maintaining the vaccine at low temperatures. Most of the affected people are located in rural areas where there is insufficient infrastructure.
The Washington Post writes “Despite it occurring outside an urban area, this particular outbreak may be harder to contain because it has already spread across 37 miles. Some of those infected are health workers, which poses an additional risk of transmission to others. Those who help bury or clean the bodies of the infected are also at high risk.”
Why is Ebola so dangerous?
The average Ebola fatality rate is about 50 percent. But the rates have varied from 25 percent to 90 percent in recent outbreaks. There is as of yet no proven cure available for Ebola, though some vaccines are being tested.
Some people who have recovered from Ebola have developed long-term complications, such as joint and vision problems. It is not known why some people recover from Ebola while most succumb to the disease, writes Al Jazeera.
Thewhistler.ng noted “This is the ninth time Ebola has been recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the disease made its first known appearance – near the vast central African country’s northern Ebola River – in the 1970s.”
According to CNN, Salama said during mid-May that it’s “going be tough and it’s going to be costly to stamp out this outbreak.”
The Islamic Post