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New Ebola outbreak kills 20 in DR Congo - News - Nurses Arena Forum

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New Ebola outbreak kills 20 in DR Congo by katty : August 04, 2018, 03:35:38 AM
International efforts to contain a fresh outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo could be thwarted by chronic violence in the region where the virus has been reported, health experts are warning.

The World Health Organisation has mobilised an emergency response team after the Congolese government confirmed that Ebola had struck North Kivu province, an eastern region notorious for its instability.

At least 20 people have died after showing symptoms of haemorrhagic fever in and around the village of Mangina, the Congolese health ministry said. Four samples taken from six people who have so far survived tested positive for Ebola, the ministry added.

The latest cases come just a week after officials formally declared the end of an earlier outbreak that killed 33 people close to the city of Mbandaka, 1,500 miles to the west of Mangina. The two outbreaks are not connected, the health ministry said.

A rapid international and local response helped to contain the Mbandaka outbreak, even though it spread into the city itself, raising fears of a reprise of the type of Ebola epidemic that killed 11,000 people in West Africa three years ago.

This is an active conflict zone. The major barrier will be safely accessing the affected population
Peter Salama, WHO
But emergency teams may struggle to repeat that success in Mangina because of insecurity. At least 1,000 people have been killed by government soldiers and armed groups in the town of Beni, 18 miles to the east, since 2014.

The rest of North Kivu is also unstable. More than 1m people have fled their homes in a region that is criss-crossed by more than a dozen armed groups.

“This new cluster is occurring in an environment which is very different from where we were [previously] operating,” said Peter Salama, deputy head of the World Health Organisation. “This is an active conflict zone. The major barrier will be safely accessing the affected population.”

The affected area also lies within 60 miles of the Ugandan border, raising fears that traders could carry the disease across an international frontier, something that would severely complicate an effective response.

Traditional monitoring and containment methods were supplemented by the use of a new Ebola vaccine during the intervention to end the Mbandaka outbreak.

The role played the vaccine in ending the outbreak is unknown, although none of the 3,300 people who received it after being exposed to the virus died.

However, it is unclear if the vaccine can be used in the latest outbreak because it is not yet known which of the four strains of Ebola have struck Mangina. The rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine used in Mbandaka is only effective against the Zaire species of the virus.

Ebola is endemic in Congo, where the disease was first reported in 1976. This is the tenth outbreak to affect the country, although there may have been more that have gone undetected.

Congo’s health minister, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, said improved surveillance methods have ensured that outbreaks are now identified more rapidly, enabling a more effective response.

Ebola is a constant threat in DRC
Tedros Adhanom, WHO
“Although we did not expect to face a tenth epidemic so early, the detection of the virus is an indication of the proper functioning of the surveillance system,” he said in a statement.

Despite the challenges, the World Health Organisation pledged to contain the latest outbreak.

“Ebola is a constant threat in DRC,” the body’s head, Tedros Adhanom, said. “We will fight this one as we did the last. We have started moving staff and supplies to the affected area.”

Oxfam said it is launching a response to this new outbreak, working with communities, local partners and other agencies in the area, providing clean water, sanitation structures and information about ways to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Jose Barahona, Oxfam Country Director for the DRC, said: "This outbreak comes at a time when the country is already unstable, with millions of people caught up in humanitarian crises as a result of ongoing conflicts.

"People are hungry and at risk of disease and many have had to flee their homes. Beni has been deeply unstable for the past few years due to armed conflict and Ebola poses a serious risk to communities already on the edge and threatens our ability to help them."
Source : Telegraph

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