Published: Sat, December 01, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Congo Ebola Outbreak Becomes Second-Worst In History, IRC Says

Congo Ebola Outbreak Becomes Second-Worst In History, IRC Says

The World Health Organization said the current Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the world's second-deadliest outbreak in history.

The US experts have been sidelined for weeks, ordered away from the region because of State Department security concerns.

Peter Jay Hotez, from Baylor College of Medicine, told Al Jazeera the violence has contributed to the collapse of the health care infrastructure, so efforts by health workers are seriously hampered.

Attacks by rebel groups and open hostility by some wary locals have posed serious challenges to health workers that Ebola experts say they've never been seen before.

It is not clear how many Centers for Disease Control and Prevention workers are now trying to tackle the outbreak from Congo's capital, Kinshasa, which is almost 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away.

In the Journal of the American Medical Association, one group stated, as quoted in the report, that the USA government weeks ago ordered all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention personnel, considered "some of the world's most experienced outbreak experts", from Congo's outbreak zone because of security concerns.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has documented almost 30 Ebola outbreaks since its discovery in the DRC in 1976.

Previously, the ReEBOV Antigen Rapid Test Kit was eligible for procurement to Ebola-affected countries, under the WHO Emergency Assessment. Teams with the WHO and Congo's health ministry venture out on virus containment missions accompanied by United Nations peacekeepers or other armed security in areas where gunfire echoes daily.

Given the complications, this outbreak will last at least another six months before it can be contained, World Health Organization emergencies chief Dr Peter Salama has predicted. More than 26,000 people in the DRC have been inoculated in a "ring vaccination" policy in which those who have been in contact with an Ebola patient are vaccinated. That's not a welcome thought to neighboring Uganda and Rwanda. The trial is the first-ever multi drug trial for treatment of Ebola.

The IRC's toll will surpass the 2000 to 2001 outbreak in Uganda, which killed 224 of the 425 people it infected, making it the second-worst after the virus killed over 11,000 people in West Africa between 2014 and 2016.

As the need for help in containing the outbreak grows, two of the world's most prominent medical journals this week published statements by global health experts urging the Trump administration to do more.

This is the first time this turbulent part of northeastern Congo has had an Ebola outbreak.

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