East African Countries issue deadly Ebola virus outbreak alert — Travel Alert

May 15, 2018, 15:05
East African Countries issue deadly Ebola virus outbreak alert — Travel Alert

"The proximity of the affected area to the Congo River, which links to the Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, increases the risk of cases occurring in neighboring countries", the World Health Organization said in today's outbreak update.

News of the outbreak brings to mind the terror of the epidemic that killed 11,000 people and infected 28,000 in West Africa between 2014 and 2016.

In contrast to West Africa, which had little prior contact with the virus, DRC is the country in which Ebola was discovered in 1976. To date, 393 contacts have been identified and are being followed up.

According to the World Health Organization statement, there was a case fatality rate of almost 50 percent.

The country has experienced eight Ebola outbreaks over the past four decades.

The DRC has reported 39 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of Ebola between 4 April and 13 May, including 19 deaths.

The current outbreak's proximity to significant trade and population centers has authorities concerned.

"We have agreement, registration, plus import permit, everything formally agreed already", Tedros said. Three health care workers are among the cases and one has died. It is also located 150 kilometers (93 miles) from the large regional capital, Mbandaka. The vaccine could arrive in Kinshasa on Tuesday, WHO spokesman Eugene Kabambi said. "We have to go and show that that should really stop, and if my life is at risk, my life is not better than anyone", said Ghebreyesus, a former Ethiopian health minister and the first African to become WHO's director-general.

The vaccine was developed by the Canadian government and its production has been licensed to Merck in the U.S. Although it was designed and found to be highly effective for a different strain of the virus, it is still considered to be safe and effective.

This would mean that when a new Ebola case is diagnosed, all people who might have been in recent contact with them are traced and vaccinated to try and prevent the disease's spread. The logistics of getting the vaccine to those who need it, however, could still prove to be hard, as it must be kept at minus 60 to minus 80 degrees Celsius (minus 76 to minus 112 degrees Fahrenheit). The outbreak is in a remote part of the country, where delivering the vaccine will be a challenge because it must be kept frozen.

People have some of the same cultural practices that contributed to Ebola's explosive spread in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, including the common use of faith healers and burials that involve handling the body.

Congolese authorities and worldwide organizations including the WHO, Red Cross, the US Center for Disease Control and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) are already involved in the operation and have pledged their support to the DRC government. "And we are taking it very seriously because it is close to Mbandaka, a city of 1 million people", Fall said, adding that there are two suspected cases in Mbandaka, and the patients are being held in isolation.

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