Congo Declares New Ebola Outbreak After 2 Confirmed Cases

As Ebola returns to Africa Nigeria attempts to secure its borders

As Ebola returns to Africa Nigeria attempts to secure its borders

On Tuesday, 8th May 2018, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo informed the World Health Organisation (WHO) of a new outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) in Bikoro in Equateur Province in the north-western part of the country near the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville).

The ministry added, two cases have also been confirmed and nine others are suspected to be from the Ebola virus.

"We are very concerned and planning for all scenarios, including the worst case scenario", Peter Salama, WHO's deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response, said in Geneva on Friday.

Médecins Sans Frontières says it is preparing response plan against Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

In a report Thursday, the World Health Organization said the risk to public health from this outbreak is now assessed as being high at the local level, moderate at the regional level, and low at the global level. The country was struck by a smaller outbreak past year. However, the disease is not as gruesome as has sometimes been reported (body organs don't liquiefy), which makes it hard to figure out what's Ebola and what's not.

At least 17 people are feared to have died from the virus in the new outbreak.

Though the DRC has its own unique cultural practices, he said funeral rituals in the country that include washing and having contact with the dead body and the use of traditional healers, both of which played a superspreading role in in West Africa's 2014-16 outbreak, are similar to those in West Africa.

Two of the neighboring countries - the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Republic of Congo - have "a slightly higher level of risk" due to their river-based links to DRC, Salama said.

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"To give you a sense, we are talking about an area that is 280 kilometers even from the provincial capital of Equateur", he said. WHO said it was working with Kongo officials to scale operations in the region and to mobilize public health partners there.

Ebola is thought to be spread over long distances by fruit bats and is often transmitted to humans through contaminated bush meat.

He told a United Nations briefing in Geneva that he hoped the Democratic Republic of Congo would deploy an "experimental vaccine".

Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told the Washington Post that Ebola outbreaks are unsafe in an increasingly urbanizing Africa because once infections spread to a metropolitan area, they become much more hard to control.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has also mobilized doctors, sanitation and hygiene specialists, to help contain the spread of the disease.

Mr Salama said he hoped DR Congo authorities would approve the deployment of an experimental vaccine, but warned that the drug was not a magic bullet. "This situation worries us and requires an immediate and energetic response".

The outbreak is contained to the Democratic Republic of the Congo so far.

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