Friday, May 25, 2018

WHO: DRC Ebola Outbreak on a 'Knife's Edge' as Urban Cases Rise

An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Democratic Republic of Congo has the clear "potential to expand" as the number of confirmed cases continues to rise, the World Health Organization warned.
Health workers' response is on an "epidemiological knife's edge" after the number of people stricken with Ebola in the DRC rose to 28 since an outbreak was detected earlier this month, said WHO Deputy Director Peter Salama, in comments made on Wednesday at a conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
Seven of the confirmed cases were in urban settings.
"The next few weeks will really tell if this outbreak is going to expand to urban areas or if we're going to be able to keep it under control," Salama said.

Following the meeting, Salama told AFP news agency the outbreak "could go either way" in coming weeks.

"We are working around the clock to make sure it [goes] in the right direction," he said.

The average fatality rate among those infected with Ebola, which has no proven cure, is about 50 percent, according to WHO. 

DRC's most recent Ebola outbreak - its ninth since the disease was first identified in 1976 - initially appeared to be confined in a rural setting near the town of Bikoro, in the central African nation's northwestern Equateur Province.

But a confirmed instance of the virus last week in the city of Mbandaka, home to 1.2 million people and about 150km away from Bikoro, plunged the ongoing crisis into a "new phase", the DRC's Health Minister Oly Ilunga said last week. 

Twenty-seven people have died and at least 58 others in DRC's northwest have shown Ebola symptoms since it was identified on May 8, according to the health ministry.

The big problem is that the virus has a 21 day incubation period. This makes it difficult to determine the spread of the disease based on the symptomatic patients. This is why quarantine efforts are so important.


3 Ebola-infected detainees escape forced quarantine, take a stroll through big city, 2 die, 1 recaptured

[Posted at the SpookyWeather blog, May 25th, 2018.]