Medicine

Congo's health ministry says Ebola spreads to 2nd province

Congo's health ministry says Ebola spreads to 2nd province

While Congo's previous Ebola outbreak, declared over barely a week before the current one began, set off alarm by spreading to a city of more than 1 million on the other side of the country, the current outbreak comes with the threat of armed attack.

"We also call on the warring parties for a cessation of hostilities because the virus is unsafe to all; it doesn't choose between this group or that group".

As the region was sprinkled with so-called "red zones", or inaccessible areas where Ebola could hide, and with a high population density and movement in the region which has already hosted more than one million internally displaced people, it has posed a huge challenge for the World Health Organization and partners to deliver urgently needed support to the area, Tedros warned.

There are designated "red zones" where health workers cannot go because of the insecurity, raising concerns that cases could easily spread there, he said.

To date, 57 cases of Ebola have been reported in the DRC and there are 41 people who have died.

The area surrounding Beni and Mangina-the epicentre of the outbreak-is more or less surrounded by armed groups.

More news: UAB Hospital again highly ranked by US News & World Report

Ebola causes serious illness including vomiting, diarrhoea and in some cases internal and external bleeding.

The treatment is "the first therapeutic drug against the virus to be used in an active Ebola epidemic in the DRC", the health ministry's directorate for disease control said.

Rebecca Kesby has been speaking to Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, where the treatment was developed.

Developed in the United States, the prototype drug is a so-called single monoclonal antibody - a protein that binds on to a specific target of the virus and triggers the body's immune system to destroy the invader. Tedros called for more aggressive and more flexible means during the fight against the virus. "Every time, we learn something new about treatments and vaccines which are still in the experimental phase - there is a lot of potential there", Segoni said. This makes the region high risk and possibility of spread of the infection far and wide high.

The "ring vaccination" approach of first vaccinating health workers, contacts of Ebola victims and their contacts might have to give way to the approach of vaccinating everyone in a certain geographic area such as a village or neighborhood.

Seven of the almost 75 health workers in Mangina have been infected, Tedros said.


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