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The Latest Ebola Outbreak Has Killed Over 500 People, Including Nearly 100 Children



A health worker is sprayed with disinfectant after working at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, eastern Congo.
Image: Al-Hadji Kudra Maliro (AP)

The latest update on the current Ebola outbreak that is devastating Africa shows the situation there continues to worsen. Last weekend, the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reported that, as of 1

0 February, there were 811 confirmed or probable cases of viral disease from August 2018. Of these cases, 510 people are death, including about 100 children.

The epidemic has so far been concentrated around the north-east of the DRC, in the regions of North Kivu and Ituri. It seemed destined to die last fall, but a second wave of cases dissipated that hope, and the number of new victims rose once again in January. Between January 15 and February 3, the World Health Organization reported last week, there were 123 new cases confirmed alone. The current budget is the second largest outbreak of Ebola in history, fortunately still far behind the outbreak of 2014-2016 in West Africa that has made ill nearly 30,000 people and killed over 11,000.

On Sunday, the not-for-profit organization Save the Children highlighted the young victims of the current epidemic. According to the organization, there were 97 children killed so far, with the majority under five.

"We are at a crossroads," Heather Kerr, director of the Save the Children country in the DRC, said in a statement. . "If we do not take urgent measures to contain this, the epidemic could last another six months, if not all of the year." The DRC is a country that suffers from violence and conflict and an extreme hunger crisis: about 4 6 million children are severely malnourished The main concerns for many people are safety and make sure they have enough to eat, but Ebola must also be a priority. "

Violence and conflict in the DRC have constantly hampered the efforts of health professionals to keep track of possible victims, isolate the infected and vaccinate those in close contact. The United States has also accused the removal of Ebola experts from the area of ​​violence, although experts and organizations elsewhere have harshly criticized the country for doing so. Many US scientists have withdrawn from the area, critics have noted, have decades of experience in handling previous Ebola outbreaks.

Cultural barriers and misconceptions about the disease have also made it more difficult to stop the epidemic.

"People have interrupted the funeral because they did not believe that the deceased had surrendered to the virus, and humanitarian workers were threatened because they believed they were spreading the ebola," Kerr said. "We need to increase our efforts to reach young vowels and community leaders to build trust and help us change this trend."

There were, however, some signs of hope.

According to the Health Ministry of the DRC, about 80,000 people were vaccinated with an experimental vaccine manufactured by Merck. And although official data on vaccine efficacy are not yet available, WHO experts believe it has been very effective (90% or higher). The WHO also expects that the availability of currently available vaccine will be sufficient to survive the epidemic. So far, the fear that Ebola will spread to neighboring countries like Uganda has not occurred.

In the United States, two people were monitored for possible Ebola exposure in hospitals in Pennsylvania and Nebraska, including a healthcare provider who provided help in the DRC. Both patients were released and sent home.

[Health Ministry of the DRC, Save The Children]


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