Medicine

Ebola outbreak in Congo on 'knife's edge'

Ebola outbreak in Congo on 'knife's edge'

"One associated with a funeral that took place in a neighbouring town of Bikoro; one associated with a visit to a health care facility more than 80 kilometres away in the small village of Iboko and one where we're still gathering data on that's related to a church ceremony".

More than two dozen people have died in the past two weeks in DRC. They died hours after the prayer session, but a third patient who also left the hospital survived.

He described the task ahead as "the detective work of epidemiology", adding that medical personnel at a hospital in Wangata, Mbandaka, were tracing some 600 contacts from three separate chains of transmission.

Only by finding every single Ebola case, and mapping and following every one of their contacts, and ensuring that the sick are isolated, can the epidemic be brought to halt, he said.

Chief of Mission in the DRC, Jean Chauzy, said this in a statement in IOM's site on Saturday.

The patients fled quarantine in the densely populated city of Mbandaka in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He noted the nearly immediate response by World Health Organization and partners after Ebola was announced in Congo last week.

Health officials are particularly concerned by the disease's presence in Mbandaka, a crowded trading hub upstream from the capital Kinshasa, a city of 10 million people.

He said: "In the next five days 100 people must be vaccinated, including 70 health professionals".

"It is unfortunate but not unexpected". "It is normal for people to want the loved ones to be at home during what could be the last moments of life".

"With a sense of urgency and partnership we can manage this outbreak", he said.

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The US government has added $7 million to the initial $1 million it previously committed to fighting the virus in Congo, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said on Tuesday.

The health ministry of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has announced that the number of deaths that have been confirmed to have been caused by the latest outbreak of the destructive Ebola virus has risen to 10, out of a total of 35 confirmed cases detected throughout the African country.

It will be important to watch if the epidemic jumps global borders, spreads throughout the urban centre of Mbandaka, or spreads along the Congo River to other populations, he said.

The World Health Organisation has received widespread praise for its quick response to an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, although observers warn prevention and information to affected communities remain insufficient. Yakouide denied it, saying no cases had been confirmed in the capital and warning against spreading false reports which "could create panic and undermine the effectiveness of the response to the Ebola outbreak".

Prototype vaccine will first be given to frontline health workers and then to people who have been in contact with Ebola cases.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a disease with a high fatality rate that most commonly affects people and nonhuman primates such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees, according to the World Health Organization. It spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids or objects contaminated by someone ill with the disease.

The cases represent a setback to costly efforts to contain the virus, including the use of an experimental vaccine, and show efforts to stem its spread can be hampered by age-old customs or scepticism about the threat it poses.

The virus enters the body through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth, and can also spread through sexual contact.

A wave of panic hit Kinshasa on Wednesday, after rumors of an Ebola case admitted to the Kinshasa General Hospital. Africa has been limited to three strains: Bundibugyo, Sudan and Zaire.

In the life-and-death race to make the first effective vaccine against Ebola, one company - Merck - seems bound to win.


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