Congo’s Ebola Outbreak Is Not an ‘Emergency of International Concern’, Says WHO

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The World Health Organization didn’t declare the Ebola virus outbreak in Congo to be a “public health emergency of international concern.” So far, the virus has killed 25 people. Nonetheless, WHO is also prioritizing resources to contain further spreading of the disease.

Dr. Robert Steffen stated in the WHO expert meeting that they have a “strong reason to believe this situation can be brought under control.”

Starting in the Rural Area and Spreading To the Province

The first case of Ebola announced by the Health Ministry in Congo was found in Bikoro. Another case was confirmed in Mbandaka, and it also spread to a third area. While Bikoro is only a rural area, Mbandaka is very populated, hosting almost 1.2 million people. Moreover, it lies on the Congo River, which travels up toward the capital (Kinshasa), which has a population of 10 million.

Beginning with 4 April and up until 17 May, the country had 45 cases of Ebola infection with 25 deaths.

WHO’s statements took into consideration the fast response from the Congo government. They took quick measures to surveil and deploy mobile laboratories to contain the infection. Health experts are now treating the infected patients. They’re also trying to trace the people that were exposed to the virus.

Ebola has a few initial symptoms, similar to the flu. It can be transmitted through small amounts of bodily fluids, and it causes internal bleeding.

The international president of Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Joanne Liu, runs treatment units in Bikoro and Mbandaka:

“We are deeply concerned about the actual epidemic of Ebola in DRC.”

Liu explains that the area that could have been affected if as big as 150 km and hitting the urban part would result in a huge outbreak. She added that they would need to map where and when cases happen and contain the epidemic.

For the outbreak to become a public health emergency of international concern, it has to pass an international border, and it hasn’t happened yet.

An experimental vaccine that was found to work and to be safe in previous clinical trials has already been sent to Kinshasa.

The health agency relies on prevention, control and then vaccination. The experimental vaccines have been partly developed at the National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg, Canada.

Since 1976, when the virus was first identified, Congo has had nine Ebola outbreaks.

Rex Austin

Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere