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Ebola threat intensifies in DR Congo

Published on 18/05/18 at 10:49am
The Ebola virus

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is becoming increasingly serious, after it was confirmed that there was a case of a person infected by the virus in the city of Mbandaka.

The city has a population of approximately one million people and sits on the Congo River, a major trading avenue for the region.

Early this week it was announced that MSD would be supplying experimental as yet unapproved vaccines to attempt to curtail the Ebola outbreak but the situation threatens to potentially be beyond control if it spreads to other cities.

There are reports that there are a number of people already leaving the city out of fear of contracting the virus; this is unsurprising given the severity of the danger of the virus, in an outbreak during 2002 through to 2003 in the country, the risk of death was 90%.

“The arrival of Ebola in an urban area is very concerning and WHO and partners are working together to rapidly scale up the search for all contacts of the confirmed case in the Mbandaka area,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

The one confirmed case has been joined by three suspected cases, with the WHO planning on launching ring vaccinations in those individuals who have come into contact with the affected individuals, as well as health workers treating those carrying the virus.

The WHO already has 4,300 doses of vaccination and a further 7,540 doses are expected to arrive soon. Though each individual affected by the virus will have been in contact with hundreds of people so if the virus takes hold in the city, this number of vaccines will likely not be enough to contain the virus.

In total, there have been 44 reported cases in the country, with all but this most recent case being contained to rural areas.

Ben Hargreaves

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