400 contacts being traced in Congo's Ebola outbreak

19 May, 2017, 05:42 | Author: Van Morton
  • An international non-governmental organisation Doctors Without Borders doctor Hilde Declerck taking care of a 43-year-old patient suffering from Ebola haemorrhagic fever at an MSF isolation ward in Kampungu

A race against the clock has begun to contain an outbreak of Ebola in a remote northern area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) said today.

So far, two cases of the virus have been confirmed in a laboratory while 18 others are suspected in the remote Bas-Uele province, an equatorial forest zone near the Central African Republic.

Dr. Peter Salama, executive director of WHO's health emergencies program, said Thursday that a 39-year-old man is believed to be the first casualty. "[For] the first six months [we] will need about 10 million dollars, not just for World Health Organization but for all partners responding", he said.

As part of Nigeria's immediate response to the Ebola Virus Disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), in an emergency meeting yesterday, set up the Ebola Preparedness Working Group (EPWG).

"As you can imagine, in an area without telecommunications, without road access, without large-scale electrification, this is going to be an enormous challenge", Salama said. "The minister has directed the director of health services at the ports to ensure that public health workers are put on the alert", a health ministry spokeswoman told AFP.

The first Ebola treatment center was recently established in Likati, and the construction and deployment of a mobile lab is in process. In a 287-page report, they concluded that while the vaccine "most likely provides some protection to recipients" that protection "could in reality be quite low".

The trials there have been “promising” and the vaccines has proven to be efficient and safe so far, Dr. Salama told reporters, while Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, added that she is encouraged by the rapid response to quell the outbreak.

Their first priority is the "basic detective work" of tracing more than 400 people who are contacts of the known cases, Salama said, followed by case management and isolation.

But the World Health Organization and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, told STAT that preparations to have the experimental vaccine ready for use are being made on a parallel track with investigations in DRC into the scale of the outbreak. The most recent was in 2014, around the time more than 11,000 people died and some 28,000 cases were reported in the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

"The preparations are in place. We're expecting to get to the epicenter by the weekend".

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