Sun, May 14, 2017 - Page 4 News List

DR Congo says Ebola suspected in three deaths

POOR ACCESS:The WHO’s Allarangar Yokouide said that specialists in the area would find access difficult, but tracing contacts is key to stopping the epidemic


A doctor treats an Ebola patient at an isolation ward in Kampungu, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on Oct. 1, 2007.

Photo: AFP

One person has been confirmed dead from Ebola in an outbreak in a remote corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) as health authorities look into a total of nine suspected cases, including two other deaths, DR Congo Minister of Health Oly Ilunga Kalenga and the WHO said on Friday.

One case of the hemorrhagic fever was confirmed out of the five tested since the outbreak emerged on April 22 in Bas-Uele Province, Kalenga said.

He said the confirmed case was of the Zaire strain of the virus.

The outbreak could test a recently developed experimental Ebola vaccine that the WHO says could be used in emergencies.

The global vaccine alliance GAVI said 300,000 doses are available “if needed to stop this outbreak becoming a pandemic.”

The vast, impoverished Central African nation has had seven known Ebola outbreaks, including one in 2014 with several dozen cases. That outbreak was not connected to the massive epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone that left thousands dead.

So far all the cases have been tied to a remote village and it is a strain of Ebola that has been seen in the nation before.

Allarangar Yokouide, the WHO representative in the DR Congo, said the first teams of specialists were expected to arrive in the affected area of Likati on Friday or yesterday. The zone is about 1,300km from the capital, Kinshasa.

“The area in Likati is difficult to access, but the work of tracing contacts is very crucial to stopping the epidemic in its tracks,” Yokouide said.

The community is near the border with the Central African Republic.

Ebola occasionally jumps to humans from animals, including bats and monkeys.

Without preventive measures, the virus can spread quickly between people and is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases. There is no specific treatment for the disease.

The new cluster of Ebola cases will again test one of the world’s least-equipped health systems.

The US Agency for International Development has said an estimated 70 percent of the population has little or no access to healthcare.

“We urge you not to give in to panic,” Kalenga said.

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