Ebola outbreak in east Congo now world's second biggest

Henrietta Strickland
November 30, 2018

At least 245 people have died from the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo in recent weeks, the country's health ministry said Thursday, making it the second-deadliest outbreak of the disease in history.

Health workers hope that the first multi-drug Ebola treatment trial, announced by DR Congo's health ministry on Monday, will help to contain this and future outbreaks.

"There have been 241 deaths", the ministry said in an update correct to November 26, indicating there had been a total of 421 cases - 374 of them confirmed, and another 47 probable.

Congo has suffered 10 Ebola outbreaks since the virus was discovered there in 1976. Teams with the World Health Organization and Congo's health ministry venture out on virus containment missions accompanied by United Nations peacekeepers or other armed security in areas where gunfire echoes daily.

"The good is we have a vaccine now". West Africa's Ebola outbreak killed more than 11 000 people from 2014 to 2016. People who have been in contact with those persons are then also vaccinated.

Congo's deadly Ebola outbreak is now the second largest in history.

Nearly 200 people have died in this outbreak of Ebola.

It is not clear how many Centers for Disease Control and Prevention workers are now forced to tackle the outbreak from Congo's capital, Kinshasa, almost 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away.

Speaking to The Associated Press on Friday from the outbreak zone, the Ebola response program director for the International Rescue Committee, Dr. Stacey Mearns, said the absence of the CDC's experts can be felt acutely.

The alarmingly high number of infected newborns in this outbreak is another concern, and so far a mystery. In a separate statement on Thursday, WHO said so far 36 Ebola cases have been reported among newborn babies and children under 2.

In the Journal of the American Medical Association, one group noted that the U.S. government weeks ago ordered all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention personnel - "some of the world's most experienced outbreak experts" - from DR Congo's outbreak zone because of security concerns.

It spreads through contact with bodily fluids and causes hemorrhagic fever with severe vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding, and in many flare-ups, more than half of cases are fatal.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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