World Health Organization reports new Ebola case in DR Congo

Grant Boone
May 14, 2018

As of Friday, 34 Ebola cases have been reported in the area in the past five weeks, including two confirmed, 18 probable (deceased) and 14 suspected cases. According to Jašarević, this is the ninth Ebola outbreak in DRC and that it is "endemic" to the country. There is no specific treatment for the virus, and it can prove fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.

The Democratic Republic of Congo and United Nations agencies said on Sunday they began deploying emergency teams of specialists over the weekend to try to prevent the spread of an Ebola epidemic suspected to have infected more than 30 people.

Ebola caused global alarm in 2014 when the world's worst outbreak began in West Africa, killing more than 11,300 people and infecting an estimated 28,600 as it swept through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.

It can be transmitted by close contact with infected animals or people, usually through blood or other bodily fluids.

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Picture: Jean Robert N'Kengo/ReutersA health worker takes off protective clothing after visiting the isolation ward at Bikoro hospital, which received a new suspected Ebola case, in Bikoro, Democratic Republic of Congo. "We have enough of them", said Tedros, without specifying the number of doses. In the report, WHO states that it will also be "working with the Ministry of Health to gather and test samples, conduct contact tracing and improve data collection and management" to learn more about the outbreak.

Last week, Peter Salama, deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response at the World Health Organization, pointed out that use of the vaccine comes with many challenges, as it needs to be stored long-term at temperatures between minus 60 and minus 80 degrees Celsius (minus 76 to minus 112 Fahrenheit). Three health professionals have already been infected with suspected Ebola, one of whom has died. The affected area is remote with limited communication and poor transportation infrastructure. "The vaccines are going to arrive on Wednesday or Thursday". It must be kept at -60 to -80 degrees Celsius (-76°F to -112°F), creating huge logistical challenges.

Before 2014, Ebola research had stagnated. Towards the end of the crisis, people were treated with antibodies of survivors. WHO's director-general met President Joseph Kabila and traveled to Bikoro together with DRC Health Minister Oly Ilunga. Mobile laboratories arrived in Bikoro on May 12 and have started testing suspected carriers.

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