Ebola outbreak worsens in DRC

Spencer Underwood
May 16, 2018

An outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Bikoro health zone, Equateur Province, was declared four days ago.

A pioneering vaccine and rapid response could bring the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC's) latest Ebola outbreak under control, minimising the chances of it spreading to more populous areas, officials said.

Nineteen deaths were also reported in the region. 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 present the outbreak did not meet the criteria for declaring a "public health event of worldwide concern", which would trigger the formation of an emergency WHO committee. "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. There is no specific treatment for the virus, and it can prove fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.

The government has authorised the World Health Organization to use the VSV vaccine, which was trialled successfully in Guinea in 2015. The vaccine, developed by Merck and referred to both as VSV-ZEBOV and V920, has shown the ability to cut the risk of infection in human trials. On average, about 50% of people who become ill with Ebola die. "We have to get ahead of the curve and make promising diagnostics, drugs and vaccines for diseases we know could be a threat in the future". The WHO obtained 4,000 doses of the vaccine, and on May 13, was already preparing to send them, along with specialists, to the African country.


"We're working on the deployment of these materials, especially readying the cold chain [storage equipment]".

"This is the country's ninth Ebola outbreak and there is considerable expertise in-country", Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, was quoted as saying. After that, vaccination of health care workers and people who have been in contact with cases will begin. So far, at least 382 contacts have been identified.

The Geneva-based body plans to ship experimental vaccines for the virus to the central African country "as quickly as possible so they can be used to save lives", WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said on his Twitter account.

Ebola Virus Disease according to the statement is a rare disease that can lead to death mostly affecting human and non-human primates (monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees). Although not confirmed, the disease is thought to be carried in fruit bats and can be transmitted through blood or bodily fluids between wild animals and humans.

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