There’s ‘strong progress’ in fighting Ebola in Congo

Congo confirms another Ebola case as outbreak hits 1-month mark

Today Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO) said he was cautiously optimistic that the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is stabilizing, while another top WHO official said response efforts are having an impact.

Msgr. Bomengola told CNS Ebola had "made everything more hard for the population", adding that there were fears the disease could spread down the Congo River from the trading hub of Mbandaka to Kinshasa, a city of 10 million.

The ongoing Ebola outbreak poses a significant risk of spread to these countries on the basis of proximity to the current outbreak and the current capacity of their health systems to cope with the disease. The current outbreak is caused by the Zaire ebolavirus, one of five separate subtypes and the one with the highest mortality rate, ranging from 60% to 90%, according to WHO.

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Phase 1 of the vaccination campaign, a plan to protect urban centers and towns, has "gone well", said Salama.

"There's been very strong progress in the outbreak response, particularly in relation to two of three sites", Salama said.

Still, everyone remains on "high alert", he said, adding that two new confirmed cases in Iboko at the end of May and a single case on June 2 "tells us a lot about why we need to refocus our response".

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Mbandaka, in northwest DRC, has a population of around one million.

"Contact tracing has been a huge challenge in this hard-to-reach area", Salama said, describing Iboko as a remote community in a heavily forested part of the DRC. Bikoro health zone and Wangata health zone both reported their last confirmed case in mid-May.

He warned, however, that experts are not in a position to document all chains of transmission of the virus, so "there may still yet be unknown chains out there and there may still be surprises in this outbreak".

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However, the Congolese government is considering other experimental treatments that it is evaluating for use. It's the identification and follow-up of all people who may have come into contact with a person infected with the infectious disease. This is the first time such treatments are available in the midst of an Ebola outbreak.

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