Ebola outbreak in Congo spreads to urban area


Ebola outbreak in Congo spreads to urban area

Henrietta Brewer
May 18, 2018

At present, 514 people who may have been in contact with infected people have been notified by the national health authorities, and they are now under monitoring.

Isolation zones have been set up in Mbandaka's main hospital as well as Bikoro hospital, with more Ebola treatment centers being set up in Mbandaka and Bikoro.

World Health Organization has previously admitted that it was too slow to respond to a deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa from 2014-2016 that killed more than 11,000 people.

The new case of Ebola virus disease has been confirmed in Wangata, one of the three health zones of Mbandaka, a city of almost 1.2 million people in Equateur Province in northwestern Congo, the World Health Organization confirmed Thursday.

The worldwide response to the current Congo outbreak has been substantial, and is expected to grow in size and urgency after the announcement of a confirmed urban case. "We have urban Ebola, which is a very different animal from rural Ebola". This caused concern of the world organization of health (WHO).


A total of 44 cases of Ebola have been reported in Congo in this outbreak: three confirmed, 20 probable and 21 suspected, according to WHO. And despite the frightening threat of this devastating virus spreading to one of the country's larger cities, at least health workers now have a new weapon in their arsenal.

Health officials warn that a new case of Ebola in central Africa is a "major, major game-changer".

Ebola, a hemorrhagic disease which is endemic to tropical regions of sub-Saharan Africa, was identified in the 1970s, but historically claimed a relatively small number of lives, despite its mortality rates reaching as high as 50 percent, as its spread between isolated villages and towns was limited. But Bikoro lies near the heavily traveled Congo River, which connects travelers not only to Mbandaka to the north, but to the capital city of Kinshasa, with more than 9 million residents, to the south.

They are coordinating their efforts - and that includes not only tracking down and monitoring contacts of infected people, but a plan to give those contacts the experimental vaccine.

Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million, is in a busy travel corridor in Congo's northwest Equateur province and is upstream from the capital, Kinshasa, a city of about 10 million.


They work backwards from each infected person, figuring out everyone they might have come in contact with and monitoring those individuals for any sign at all of infection.

The WHO is sending 7,540 experimental vaccines to DRC, 4,300 of which have already arrived in the capital, Kinshasa, as part of a coordinated response to the outbreak.

"This is a major development in the outbreak", said Peter Salama, the WHO's deputy director general of emergency preparedness and response.

An outbreak between 2014 and 2016 in west Africa was the worst ever, and killed more than 11,000.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976, when the deadly disease was first identified.


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