Tag Archives: Ebola

Ebola outbreak in DR Congo

Ebola outbreak in western Democratic Republic of Congo has infected 100 people as of August 21, claiming lives of 43 of them, the World Health Organization said.

The latest outbreak of the virus was declared on June 1 in Mbandaka, a city of one million people on the River Congo, just before DR Congo declared the end of a previous outbreak in the east that had lasted for two years.

It has spread to remote villages in Equateur province spanning more than 300 km of dense tropical jungle with few roads, the WHO said in a statement. The pace of the virus’s spread has been relatively consistent, case data shows.

“The virus is spreading across a wide and rugged terrain which requires costly interventions,” said Matshidiso Moeti, WHO’s Africa regional director.

As in previous outbreaks, the WHO has implemented a ring vaccination strategy, where contacts of infected individuals are vaccinated, reaching more than 22,600 people to date.

In late June Congo celebrated the end of a genetically distinct Ebola outbreak which killed more than 2,200 people over two years. Despite effective vaccines and treatments that dramatically boosted survival rates, however the response was limited by having to operate in areas controlled by armed groups.

There are the other problems along with security, complicating the situation, the last week health responders in Mbandaka went on strike and blocked access to testing laboratories for three days in protest over unpaid salaries and low pay scales. The strike ended on Monday when the government agreed to examine their claims.

Despite effective vaccines and treatments that dramatically boosted survival rates, the response was hampered by having to operate in areas controlled by armed groups.

Last week health responders in Mbandaka went on strike and blocked access to testing laboratories for three days in protest over unpaid salaries and low pay scales. The strike ended when the government agreed to examine their claims.

Congo’s equatorial forests are a natural reservoir for the Ebola virus, which was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976 and causes severe fièvre, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Congo’s equatorial forests are a natural reservoir for the Ebola virus, which was discovered near the Ebola River in 1976 and causes severe vomiting and diarrhoea.

DRC: new Ebola case established

Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed a case of Ebola in the western province of Equateur, over 1,000 km away from the ongoing outbreak in the country’s east, Health Minister Eteni Longondo told journalists on June 1.

The diagnosis presents a serious challenge to health authorities. In April, Congo was days from declaring the end of the second-largest Ebola epidemic on record when a new series of contaminations was confirmed in the east.

DRC escape of Ebola patient

The Democratic Republic of Congo was two days away from announcing the end of the world’s second-largest Ebola epidemic when a new chain of infection was discovered on April 10, following more than seven weeks without a new case.

Since then, health authorities have sought to contain any renewed spread of infections.

But on April 18 a 28-year-old motorbike taxi-driver who had tested positive for Ebola ran away from the centre where he was being treated in the town of Beni.

“We are using all the options to get him out of the community,” said Boubacar Diallo, deputy incident manager for the WHO’s Ebola response operation. “We are expecting secondary cases from him.”

An Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo may spread again after a patient escaped from a clinic, complicating efforts to contain the disease that has infected six people since last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on April 19.

DR Congo: Ebola new case

The Ebola patient has died in Democratic Republic of Congo, the government said on Aptil 10, indicating that the second worst outbreak of the disease in history is not over.

“A new case of Ebola virus disease was confirmed today in the city of Beni in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

“While not welcome news, this is an event we anticipated. We kept response teams in Beni and other high risk areas for precisely this reason,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

As part of the active Ebola surveillance system in place to respond to this ongoing outbreak in DRC, thousands of alerts are still being investigated every day. An alert is a person who has symptoms that could be due to Ebola, or any death in a high risk area that could have been as result of Ebola.

As with all confirmed cases, efforts are already underway to find everyone who may have been in contact with the person in order to offer them the vaccine and monitor their health status.

“WHO has worked side by side with health responders from the DRC for over 18 months and our teams are right now supporting the investigation into this latest case,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “Although the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic adds challenges, we will continue this joint effort until we can declare the end of this Ebola outbreak together.”

The news of the confirmed case came minutes after the conclusion of a meeting of the International Health Regulations Emergency Committee on Ebola in DRC. The Emergency Committee will reconvene next week in order to re-evaluate their recommendations in light of this new information.

DRC: Second Ebola vaccine in view

Health authorities in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) informed that they plan to introduce a second Ebola vaccine, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, to counter the second-worst outbreak of the deadly virus.

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The team overseeing Congo’s Ebola response did not reveal when exactly the J&J vaccine would be employed. It will complement another vaccine manufactured by Merck, which has been administered to more than 225,000 people since August 2018. Unlikely fhe J&J vaccine requires two injections eight weeks apart, unlike the Merck product, which requires a single shot.

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According to the Congolese authorities, they will offer J&J vaccine to Congolese traders who cross into Rwanda and then to residents of the province neighbouring the epicentre of the outbreak to “create a corridor of immunised people”.

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Ebola patient passed away in Uganda

The nine-year-old girl  from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), , who was tested positive this week for the Ebola virus in Uganda, died on August 30 morning. (Image: illustration).

“She died around 8 AM this morning,Yusuf Baseka, director of health services for Kasese District, southwestern Uganda told AFP. The child was in isolation in a health center in Bwera, in the same district of Kasese. The body of the girl “is being repatriated” in the DRC, with his mother who accompanied her daughter’s  remains, he said.

“I want to reassure all Ugandans and non-Ugandans that we have the full capacity to control Ebola. Stay calm and vigilant,” tweeted Ugandan Minister of Health Jane Ruth Aceng before the announcement of the girl’s death. She is the fourth person diagnosed with Ebola in Uganda to die.

In June, three family members diagnosed in Uganda, after contracting the disease in the DRC, died. Two died on Ugandan soil and the third in the DRC after being repatriated. In late July, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Uganda free from Ebola, with no other cases reported in the meantime.

The contaminated girl arrived at the Mpondwe crossing point on the DRC-Uganda border this week to seek medical help in Bwera, according to the Ugandan Ministry of Health. In Mpondwe, where Uganda has sanitary controls in place, medical teams have noted that Ebola-like symptoms include fever, generalized weakness, rash and unexplained blood loss in the mouth. , according to the same source.

Blood tests confirmed that she was “Ebola positive“. The Ministry pointed out that since it had been controlled at the border, it had not come into contact with anyone in Uganda.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever, highly contagious, causes the death of between 25% and 90% of patients, according to the WHO. There is no commercialized treatment or vaccine, but several leads are being tested. It is spread through direct contact with blood, body secretions (sweat, stool, etc.), through sexual intercourse and through the improper handling of contaminated cadavers.

A total of 2,006 people died of Ebola in the DRC in a year, and Ugandan authorities, who fear the virus is spreading in their country, have taken strict preventive measures. Nearly 18,000 people cross the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda daily, according to Ugandan government statistics.

Ebola hits South Kivu

A woman and her child were confirmed with Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s South Kivu region this week, which outlines new challenges in defeating the outbreak.

Health officials expressed their concerns that the latest cases were registered more than 700 km south from the initial epicenter of the outbreak .

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) the young woman (24) died, and her 7-month-old son, who is also confirmed to be infected with the Ebola virus, is receiving a relevant treatment.

Ebola disease has killed at least 1,900 people in Congo over the past year.

EU allocates €3.5 million to Ebola emergency

As the deadly Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues, with the first cases emerging in neighbouring Uganda this week, the EU has announced further emergency funding of €3.5 million, of which €2.5 million is for Uganda and €1 million for South Sudan. The aid package will strengthen rapid detection and reaction to Ebola cases. Today’s funding comes on top of the EU support for the Ebola response in the Democratic Republic of Congo and prevention and preparedness actions in Uganda, South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi.

Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis management and EU Ebola coordinator said: “We are doing all we can to save lives and stop further Ebola cases. Today, our main task is not only to help the Democratic Republic of Congo, but also assist neighbouring countries like Uganda. Here, our funding is helping with surveillance, work with local communities, and boosting local capacities for these countries to take timely and effective action. We are committed to continue our assistance to bring this outbreak to an end, for as long as it takes.”

In co-ordination with other international donors and in line with the World Health Organization’s Regional Strategic Ebola Response and Preparedness Plans, EU funding is contributing towards measures that include mainly:

  • the strengthening of disease surveillance at community level, health facilities and points of entry (border crossing points);
  • the training of rapid response teams;
  • the training of healthcare and frontline workers on contact-tracing, infection prevention and control measures, psychosocial support, and safe and dignified burials;
  • local capacity-building by equipping medical treatment facilities; and
  • community awareness-raising.

EU humanitarian health experts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and the region are coordinating the response and they are in daily contact with the health authorities in these countries, the World Health Organization and operational partners.

WHO declines Ebola global alert

In a controversial decision, the World Health Organization (WHO) has again declined to declare Africas latest Ebola outbreak global alert, although the desease has killed more than 1400 people and just crossed into a new country.

It was the view of the committee that the outbreak is a health emergency in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the region, but it does not meet all criteria,Preben Aavitsland, acting chair of an expert committee convened by WHO, said at a press conference  in Geneva, Switzerland.

The committee gathered for the third time after news emerged this week that the virus had spread from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to neighboring Uganda, so far claimed lives of two people there—a 5-year-old boy and his grandmother—who had crossed the border.

Many infectious disease experts and public officials had expected, and called for WHO to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) when Ebola broke out of the DRC.

*I’m baffled and deeply troubled by this decision,Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.. “The status quo is no longer tenable. It is time to sound a global alert.”

Ebola fighters under attack

World Health Organization (WHO) said it feared continued “intense transmission” of Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where deaths from a nine-month-old epidemic is 994 and expected to exceed 1,000 within hours.

The WHO plans to introduce an unlicensed new Ebola vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson, in addition to a Merck vaccine already being used, as “another tool in the toolbox”, Dr. Michael RyanExecutive Director of the Geneva.WHO Health Emergencies Programme, told a news briefing in Geneva.

However security incidents continue to plague the response to the outbreak, including a would-be assault on a facility, slowing vaccination and daily checks on some 12,000 people potentially exposed to the virus,  Ryan underlined. Since January  there were 119 separate attacks, and 85 health personnel either injured or killed.

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