June 12, 2024

New Ebola outbreak declared after the Democratic Republic of Congo confirmed a single case

Felix Tshisekedi
Felix Tshisekedi

In Mbandaka, a city in the north-western Equateur Province, a 31-year-old man began experiencing symptoms earlier this month. After receiving home-based care, the man was admitted to the Ebola treatment center for intensive care on April 21 but died later that day.

According to WHO, this is the third outbreak in the province since 2018 as well as the 14th Ebola outbreak for the country since 1976.

The Ebola virus, also called ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a rare but severe, and often fatal, illness that causes bleeding and organ failure.

Similarly to the coronavirus, it can be spread from wild animals to people, then eventually transmitted human-to-human.

Initial symptoms of Ebola include muscle pain, chills, fever and headache.

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, says this new outbreak is a game of catch-up, and that though only one case has been confirmed, “time is not on our side.”

But health officials say efforts to contain the outbreak are underway, bringing more vaccinations to the area.

“Many people in Mbandaka are already vaccinated against Ebola, which should help reduce the impact of the disease. All those who were vaccinated during the 2020 outbreak will be revaccinated,” said Moeti.

According to Aljazeera, “The Ebola outbreak in 2018-2020, in the east of the country, killed nearly 2,300 people, the second-highest toll recorded in the history of the hemorrhagic fever.”

In response to the same outbreak, UCLA researchers and their colleagues from the Democratic Republic of Congo’s National Institute of Biomedical Research studied more than 600 individuals who received the single-dose rVSVΔG-ZEBOV-GP vaccine.

They found that after 21 days, 87.2% of the study participants showed an antibody response. After six months, 95.6% of all participants showed antibody persistence, as reported in the peer-reviewed journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This research is currently being used by the DRC Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization to aid in the development of strategies and efforts to better control the current and future outbreaks of Ebola.

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