Medical teams move in to help slow Ebola outbreak in Eastern Congo
(WNN) Eastern DRC – DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO: On 17 August 2012, the Ministry of Health (MoH) of the Democratic Republic of Congo, notified the World Health Organization (WHO) of an outbreak of Ebola Haemorrhagic fever in the Isiro and Dungu Health Zones of Province Orientale in Eastern DRC. A total of 10 suspected cases (9 in Isiro and 1 in Dungu) and 6 deaths (5 deaths in Isiro and 1 in Dungu) have been reported.
Laboratory investigations conducted at the Uganda Virus Research Institute (UVRI), Entebbe, Uganda, confirmed Ebola virus (Bundibugyo species). Three samples taken from two patients turned out positive for Ebola. A National Task Force convened by the Congolese Ministry of Health, is working with several partners including the WHO, MSF – Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders), CDC – Center for Disease Control Prevention, etc… A joint Ministry of Health, WHO and MSF emergency response team are in the field to conduct a detailed epidemiological investigation and case management.
New discoveries with drug treatments that may work against the Ebola virus may be making progress as scientists have recently discovered that a protein that moves cholesterol within cells could provide a scientific link that will help in the development of a vaccine to treat the disease. To date there is no known medical treatment or drug that will work to stop the disease, which is known to kill a high percent of those infected with it.
Recent outbreaks of Ebola have also recently been appearing in the Kabaale District of Western Uganda. On July 30 up to 16 persons were confirmed dead from the disease with 7 more cases diagnosed as medical teams from the International Federation of the Red Cross, the Uganda Red Cross and the National Emergency Taskforce from the Uganda Minsitry of Health went into the region to assist and survey the extent in the spread of the disease. On August 3 officials from the WHO stated that the outbreak in Uganada was under control. Spread of the disease was tempered as medical advocates noted that contagion for the disease was happening to those who were attending funerals. Proper disposal of the bodies of those who have died from the disease has helped to keep the spread of the disease down.
The Ebola virus has been a disease that scientists and medical experts alike are still studying and researching. The disease is known to hibernate for years and then suddenly appear, then go into hibernation again. Animal hosts, especially bats, are suspected to be carriers. Contagion with the disease is made through blood and bodily fluids. Recent outbreaks in the African regions have been in areas where poverty levels are high and lack of proper sanitation is common.
WHO is supporting the Ministry of Health in the DRC areas for coordination; surveillance; epidemiology; laboratory; case management; logistics for outbreak; public information and social mobilization. An additional team of experts from Congo, DRC and IST/Gabon comprised of an epidemiologist, logistician, anthropologist and social mobilization officers are being mobilized for possible deployment in the field. Control activities that are being carried include active case finding and contact tracing, enhanced surveillance, case management, public information and social mobilization and reinforcing infection control practices.
The last outbreak of Ebola, charted by the Washington, D.C. based CDC – Center for Disease Control and Prevention, outlined for the Congo region happened near the border of Zaire in the towns of Mweka and Luebo in the Province of Kasai Occidental between December 2008 – February 2009. During the outbreak 32 people contracted Ebola as 47 percent (15 people) died from conditions that were caused by the disease.
Currently the WHO – World Health Organization does not recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied to Democratic Republic of Congo at this time.
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