Almost a month after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) Ebola-free, a recent wave of the epidemic has hit the western part of the nation.
Confirming that 48 new cases have been detected in DRC’s Equateur province, Mike Ryan, the WHO’s top emergency professional admitted that this is nonetheless a very active outbreak and a terrific cause of concern.
This could be the 11th Ebola outbreak within the nation. On May 14, the WHO and the DRC authorities had declared the nation free from the 10th outbreak of the epidemic.
Ebola discovered 40 years ago, known as a hemorrhagic fever virus is spread by way of direct contact with body fluids –blood, saliva, sweat, tears, mucus, vomit, feces, breast milk, urine, and semen — of contaminated individuals.
The virus causes clotting issues leading to internal bleeding, inflammation, and tissue damages. Additionally it is spread by touching things which have been contaminated with these fluids.
Although greater than 300,000 people have been inoculated with a vaccine developed by a US drug company, health consultants mentioned the security and social challenges are making combating the disease difficult.
In April 2019, Richard Mouzoko, a WHO epidemiologist, was killed in an attack on the Butembo University Hospital, resulting in derailment and suspension of vaccination.
Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum, the director of the National Institute for Biomedical Research in the capital Kinshasa, advised reporters that greater than 80% of people who were vaccinated did not contract the illness, while those who got contaminated had relatively mild symptoms.
He mentioned that the vaccine can generate a fast immune response within 10 days after taking a single dose.
Measles and COVID-19 additionally affecting the poor country
Health consultants are concerned that, the DRC, one of many world’s poorest countries is already dealing with a measles epidemic that has killed greater than 6,000 people, as well as COVID-19 pandemic.
In accordance with the US-based Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre, the Central African nation has to date reported greater than 8,135 COVID-19 infections with 190 deaths.
In Africa, 5 countries have experienced Ebola outbreaks over the previous six years together with DR Congo, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Nigeria. The worst outbreak which occurred in West Africa from 2014-2016, was attributed to the Zaire strain of the Ebola virus.
The outbreak infected more than 28,600 people and killed 11,325.
The victims included healthcare professionals, which left hospitals understaffed.
The last outbreak of Ebola was reported in the North Kivu province of DR Congo in August 2018. The 10th Ebola outbreak in the area, since the discovery of the virus, also spilled over to Ituri province, South Kivu, and throughout the border in neighboring Uganda.
Since this outbreak, the virus-infected 3,470 people within the nation and killed 2,287 people, according to the WHO.
The earlier 2014 outbreak had affected densely populated areas, which also complicated the contact tracing.
Response to Ebola took time
In accordance with health consultants, since Ebola had not been diagnosed in humans in that area, it took a while to know the disease and to develop defensive measures. The transportation of infected dead bodies to their hometowns, a tradition in the West African countries also compounded the problem.
“A stronger health system may have prevented the outbreak, and could even have helped to stop it once it had begun within the three countries,” mentioned Ifeanyi Nsofor, a medical practitioner and chief executive of EpiAFRIC, an African health consultancy group.
Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) — a global humanitarian medical non-governmental group — mentioned its teams were responding to the epidemic in the Bikoro and Bolomba health zones of Equateur province, by supporting the advance of isolation units in hospitals.
“We urgently want a large-scale immunization strategy; the supply of particular medication to stop the spread of the virus and deal with infected sufferers; and the decentralization of care and sufferers’ integration into the general public health system as an important tool to enhance entry and construct community trust,“ said a statement issued by the MSF.
Eugene Ilunga, a DR Congo-based health professional, mentioned the epidemic survivors require specific consideration to deal with some life-changing health problems.
“Ebola survivors can be a useful resource in elevating consciousness primarily based on their expertise of having been infected and survived the disease,” he added.
Last month, the UN Undersecretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, Mark Lowcock, announced $40 million to assist DR Congo to prepare a response to Ebola and different health emergencies.