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The second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history is spreading to the big city



The second-largest, second-deadliest Ebola outbreak in history has become a major city.

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Add Ebola as an interest to keep abreast of the latest Ebola news, videos and analysis from ABC News. Butembo, a bustling city of nearly one million people in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, reports an increasing number of Ebola virus diseases in the country's current epidemic. There has been a "significant increase" in infections in the past three weeks. So far, a total of 25 cases have been confirmed, according to the Thursday's bulletin from the country's Ministry of Health.

Butembo is an important trade and transport hub with connections to other major cities in the country as well as neighboring Uganda. It is about twice the size of the city of Beni, the epicenter of the eruption, and is only 60 km away. The Department of Health said the Butembo population's "high density and mobility" poses new challenges to the mitigation efforts already hampered by sporadic rebel attacks on remote villages in and around Beni.

Symptoms of haemorrhagic fever have been reported by a total of 471

people in the eastern provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, which border Rwanda, Uganda and southern Sudan, since the outbreak on 1 August. 423 of these cases have tested positive for Ebola virus disease, which, according to the Ministry of Health, often leads to deadly forms of hemorrhagic fever.

So far, there have been 273 deaths, including 225 people who died of confirmed cases of Ebola. The other deaths come from probable cases of Ebola, the ministry said.

<img src = "https://s.abcnews.com/images/International/congo-ebola-02-ap-jc-181207_hpMain_4x3_992.jpg" border = "0" width = "640" height = "480 "alt =" PHOTO: Healthcare workers move a patient to hospital after realizing he has Ebola in an Ebola treatment center in Butembo, Congo, supported by Medecin's Sans Frontieres, on November 4, 2018. John Wessels / MSF About AP
Healthcare workers transfer a patient to a hospital after realizing that Ebola was being assisted in an Ebola treatment center supported by Medecin's Sans Frontieres on November 4, 2018 in Butembo, Congo.

Outbreak is one of the world's worst, second only to the outbreak of 2014-2016 in several West African countries that have infected 28,652 people and killed 11,325 people, according to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ebola is endemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This is the 10th eruption and the worst the country has experienced since 1976. This year, scientists have first discovered the deadly virus near the eponymous Ebola River.

"No other epidemic in the world has been as complex as the one we are currently experiencing," said Dr Congolese Health Minister Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, last month in a statement.

<img src = "https://s.abcnews.com/images/International/congo-ebola-04-ap-jc-181207_hpMain_4x3_992.jpg" border = "0" width = "640" height = "480 "alt =" PHOTO: A janitor already cured by Ebola carries a four-day-old baby suspected of carrying Ebola to an Ebola treatment center in Butembo, Congo, supported by Medecin's Sans Frontieres, on November 4, 2018. John Wessels / MSF via AP
A caretaker already healed by Ebola carries a four-day-old baby suspected of bringing Ebola to an Ebola treatment center in Butembo, Congo, November 4, 2018, supported by Medecin's Sans Frontieres

The World Health Organization has been approved to administer an experimental Ebola vaccine as part of the ring vaccination process at the epicenter of the current outbreak, according to the country's Ministry of Health, which has received more than 40,000 people since August 8, including health workers and Ki been inoculated in the outbreak zone.

The vaccine, developed by the American pharmaceutical company Merck, has proven effective against the country's earlier outbreak in the Western Equateur province.

The number of Ebola cases in the current outbreak would probably have already exceeded 10,000 if the vaccination teams had not been, the ministry said Thursday.

  PHOTO: Healthcare workers put on their personal protective gear before entering the red zone of an Ebola treatment center in Butembo, Congo, supported by Medecin's Sans Frontieres on November 3, 2018. John Wessels / MSF on AP [19659010] Health care personnel don their personal protective equipment before entering the red zone of an Ebola treatment center in Butembo, Congo, supported by Medecin's Sans Frontieres, November 3, 2018.

North Kivu and Ituri, where cases are reported, are among the most populous provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They have also been flooded with violence and insecurity, especially in the mineral-rich border areas where militia activity has increased significantly over the past year. All of this complicates the international response to the Ebola outbreak.

The security situation in the region has temporarily hampered the response effort. Meanwhile, health workers are struggling with misinformation and distrust of the local population, in part due to years of conflict in the region.

Some residents are reluctant to take care of or allow healthcare workers to vaccinate, conduct contact tracking, and perform safe burials. According to the Ministry of Health, this resistance was more strongly expressed than was customary in previous Ebola outbreaks. A "minority population" in these areas destroyed medical equipment and health centers and even attacked workers, the ministry said.

The epidemic is expected to continue for "several" months, and the risk of dispersal will remain high until the outbreak is completely eradicated, according to the ministry.


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