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Ebola virus: What you need to know about the current outbreak



Ebola is far from new in the Congo, but every appearance is still considered a crisis – a crisis that needs to be quickly curbed.

This latest outbreak of haemorrhagic fever, the ninth in the Congo since the disease was identified in the 1970s, was first described as an outbreak on May 8. By May 10, officials said there were as many as 32 cases, and the number has continued to rise.

The disease can be transmitted from infected animals to humans who come into contact with contaminated blood. Ebola virus is not in the air. Instead, it moves from one person to another through contact with infected body fluids.

For people who get Ebola, which has an incubation period of between two and 21

days, the death rate is high.

Bringing up the latest figures

A World Health Organization summary of 21 May estimated the number of Ebola patients (including confirmed, probable and suspicious cases) at 58 and the number of deaths at 27 – a death rate of 46 , 5 percent.

Where did it start and how far has it spread?

The current eruption began in Bikoro, a small community on the lake shore in a rural area of ​​Equateur Province.

By mid-May, numbers had risen and concerns were growing Ebola's cases were confirmed in Mbandaka, a sprawling city of more than a million people near the Congo.

The river is a lifeline, important for the transportation of people and products through a vast country with weak infrastructure. But the role of the river in daily life is also alarming for some health authorities, because the Congolese capital Kinshasa is located downstream from Mbandaka.

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Health officials do not want to see the disease in Kinshasa. If the virus is confirmed in the crowded city of more than 10 million people, health teams will need to push hard to find every case and stem Ebola's dispersal potential.

Local and international groups also take steps to make sure that the virus does not cross borders. A WHO spokesman said teams had been deployed to increase surveillance along the Congo and elsewhere.

What is being done to contain the eruption?

Dr. Oly Ilunga, the Congolese health minister, said that every local expert and available resources had been deployed to deal with the Ebola outbreak. But the Congolese health care system, once considered exemplary, was hungry for funding and support after years of conflict.

This means that each outbreak will require both local effort and substantial international support, and there are concerns that there is not enough money

Congolese health workers are checking the temperature of passengers arriving from a Congo Airways plane in Mbandaka get out. (Kenny Katombe / Reuters)

WHO says the Ebola Strategic Response Plan needs US $ 56.8 million. Existing funding is far behind that target, but was fueled by a $ 12 million pledge from the World Bank's new pandemic emergency funding program, which aims to bring money quickly to areas with an outbreak.

May 18 WHO said this outbreak was not an international public health emergency, but officials said there was still a need for a "vigorous" local response.

Supplies and personnel are sent to Congo and organizations like MSF have already set up isolation zones in the treatment centers in Bikoro and Mbandaka.

Is there a cure?

There is no known cure for Ebola, which means that doctors and nurses must do everything they can to treat the symptoms. But there is one possible vaccine now being tested in the Congo

The Congolese government, with the support of the WHO and other partners, is testing the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine. Canadian funding and work at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg has been critical to the development of the vaccine, which is not yet approved but promising in clinical trials.

So far, health workers have been in the forefront of vaccinating family members and others in close contact with Ebola patients

Peter Salama, Deputy Director General for Emergency Preparedness and World Health Organization Response told CBC How it happens that the ring vaccination method "was used in a trial a few years ago in Guinea show that this vaccine is using this vaccine Strategy used can be 100 percent effective. "

The pharmaceutical giant Merck has a license agreement for the development of the vaccine . If it works as the researchers hope, Merck told CBC News in a statement, "it will provide the vaccine to the poorest countries in the world for the lowest possible, non-profit price."

Hand washing is a preventive measure against Ebola, a high-fatal hemorrhagic fever. (Kenny Katombe / Reuters)


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