'Serious Challenge': World Health Officials Rushing to Stop Another Ebola Outbreak After 18 Deaths
The World Health Organization said Friday they are working to prevent an outbreak of the Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In the past five weeks, at least 34 cases of the fatal hemorrhagic fever have been reported, with 18 deaths and 14 suspected cases, the WHO said. Three health workers have also been infected.
“WHO staff were in the team that first identified the outbreak. I myself am on my way to the DRC to assess the needs first-hand,” said WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement. “I’m in contact with the Minister of Health and have assured him that we’re ready to do all that’s needed to stop the spread of Ebola quickly. We are working with our partners to send more staff, equipment and supplies to the area.”
“It is too early to judge the extent of this outbreak,” added Dr. Peter Salama, WHO deputy director-general for Emergency Preparedness and Response. “However, early signs including the infection of three health workers, the geographical extent of the outbreak, the proximity to transport routes and population centres, and the number of suspected cases indicate that stopping this outbreak will be a serious challenge. This will be tough and it will be costly. We need to be prepared for all scenarios.”
This is the DRC’s ninth outbreak of Ebola.
The WHO is teaming with the government there on their response plan. Right now, that plan includes contact tracing, infection prevention, community engagement and the use of ring vaccinations and antivirals.
During the 2014-15 Ebola outbreak, 11,310 people died and 28,616 were infected across West Africa, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported.