Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

DRC Reports First Confirmed Ebola Case in Over a Week

DRC Reports First Confirmed Ebola Case in Over a Week

One month after the start of an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), United Nations health experts on Friday reported "very strong progress" in the response to the disease.

Emergency Health Chief, Peter Salama, said this at a news conference in Geneva. The current outbreak is caused by the Zaire ebolavirus, one of five separate subtypes and the one with the highest mortality rate, ranging from 60% to 90%, according to WHO.

"There's been very strong progress in the outbreak response, particularly in relation to two of three sites", Salama said. The newest confirmed case is in rural Iboko and is linked to a probable Ebola death on May 20, the ministry said.

Staff of medical aid organization Doctors without Borders carry the body of a person killed by viral haemorrhagic fever, at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guinea. "And then if there is a confirmation of a case, every contact of those cases", he explained.

A vaccination campaign in the city of Mbandaka, a city of more than a million people, is over but vaccinations are continuing in more remote areas.

While Ebola's spread to a major city has complicated efforts to track all contacts of those infected, the presence of the virus in Iboko poses another world of problems.

He said that the first phase - protecting urban centres and towns - "has gone well, and we can be cautiously optimistic".

On the front lines of the outbreak, health officials use a tool called contact tracing to break the chain of transmission of the Ebola virus. The infrastructure is only beginning to catch up, he added, with motorcycles arriving now.

"This is a major logistical and boots-on-the-ground epidemiological endeavor now", Salama said, adding that work there will go on for weeks.

However, the Congolese government is considering other experimental treatments that it is evaluating for use.

"I am confident that this Ebola outbreak will soon be contained", said Claude Jibidar, WFP's DRC Country Director.

Most recently, a team of Chinese experts will arrive in Kinshasa on Friday to join the global effort, which includes nations from the European Union, Japan and the United States in assisting the Congolese health authorities, according to the Ministry of Health. "And we've learned the hard way in the past never to underestimate Ebola".

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