Published: Fri, May 18, 2018
Medical | By

World Health Organization says Ebola poses a 'very high' risk to the Congo public

World Health Organization says Ebola poses a 'very high' risk to the Congo public

Experts are alarmed by the spread of the virus to a major city.

A single case of Ebola was confirmed in Mbandaka, a densely populated provincial capital on the Congo River, Congo's Health Minister Oly Ilunga said late Wednesday.

Emergency meeting called as Ebola spreads to Congolese city - United Nations health agency The World Health Organization (WHO) is convening an emergency meeting on Friday to "consider the global risks" of the latest outbreak of the deadly disease Ebola, which has now moved to an urban area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Previously the disease was suspected in patients only in rural parts of the country, but reaching the city of Mbandaka makes the outbreak, which was first reported on May 8, significantly bigger than previously thought.

Chief executive Doctor Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus visited the affected Bikoro area last weekend, saying he hoped for a "better way out" of the latest outbreak in DRC.

The WHO statement said there had been 21 suspected, 20 probable and 3 confirmed cases of Ebola between 4 April and 15 May - a total of 44 cases, including 15 deaths. Ebola is fatal in about 50 per cent of cases.

The outbreak in West Africa that started in 2014 was the worst ever recorded.

The disease causes internal bleeding and spreads rapidly through contact with small amounts of bodily fluid. That new death had epidemiological ties to another case. Its early symptoms are not obvious and the worst effects may take weeks to show. It is often transmitted to humans through the consumption of contaminated meat, but it can also be acquired through any kind of close contact with an infected animal.

Congolese Health Ministry officials carry the first batch of experimental Ebola vaccines in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo May 16, 2018.

Persistent rain and lack of roads have hampered the effort to contain the outbreak so far.

A total of 45 cases of hemorrhagic fever have now been reported, including 25 deaths, the health ministry said Thursday. "And we are taking it very seriously", Dr. Ibrahima-Soce Fall, the World Health Organization regional emergency director for Africa, said Monday.

While there is no specific treatment for the deadly disease, which has a 90 percent fatality rate, World Health Organization has shipped thousands of doses of an experimental vaccine to the region. It will be used to protect health workers and "rings" of contacts around each case.

"All must be done to isolate the Ebola cases, especially since there has been a case in Mbandaka city", said EU Humanitarian Aid Commissioner, Christos Stylianides.

Notably, about 23 people have reportedly died and 42 people have contracted the virus since Epola outbreak began earlier in May.

In the next few days, MSF plans delivery of several tons of supplies, including medical kits; protection and disinfection kits; logistic and hygiene kits; and palliative drugs to Mbandaka.

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