Ebola Spreading in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Ebola is spreading in the African country of the Republic of Congo (DRC). The virus made an appearance in the western province. The virus might also reach the capital, Kinshasa. The outbreak first started in June and now has spread to 17 health zones. There have been 113 cases and 48 deaths so far.
Challenges and Community Resistance
This is the 2nd ebola outbreak in the region. 11 total outbreaks have happened so far in Congo. The latest appearance was in the city of Mbandaka. The city has a population of 1 million. The situation is worsened due to the strike by health workers. The workers are protesting against low salaries and non-payment since the pandemic started. WHO and its partners have been mobile in the region to help contain the virus. 90 experts, as well as additional staff, are currently working there for vaccination, prevention, and treatment. 1 million people have been screened out of which 72 have been suspected to have the virus. $2.3 million have been provided by WHO so far. WHO has also urged donors from around the world to donate to the Congolese government,.
What is the Ebola Virus?
Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is an extremely dangerous zoonotic disease. The fatality rate varies from 25% to 90%, but the average fatality rate is around 50%. Vaccine for Ebola virus is still under development and has been used in previous outbreaks in New Guinea, and DRC. The virus is transmitted from wild animals to humans. The virus can spread from humans to humans as well.
Ebola came in contact with the human population due to close contact with blood, bodily fluids, secretions of infected animals like fruit bats, gorillas, monkeys, chimpanzees, etc. Ebola then spread from humans to humans via direct contact. The blood and body fluids of a dead person who died of Ebola can also spread the virus. Health workers who were treating Ebola patients have often contracted the virus as well. Burial ceremonies have also been the cause of spread. Pregnant women may carry the virus in their breast milk and related fluids.
A person started showing symptoms between 2 to 21 days after contracting the virus. An asymptomatic person can not spread the virus. Some major symptoms are fever, fatigue, headache, sore throat, and body pain. The disease then causes vomiting, diarrhea, rash, internal and external bleeding. This is the time when the person becomes a potential spreader of the virus.
EVD made a first appearance in the year 1976 at two separate places, Nzara, South Sudan, and Yambuku, DRC. The latter occurs in the village which was near the Ebola river, so the virus was called the Ebola Virus. The 2014-2016 viral outbreak was the largest of its kind. The current outbreak is extremely difficult due to the additional pressure because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you want to learn more about Ebola Virus, visit https://www.who.int/ and the rest of the details are available. I came across a video by the Global Health Media Project on YouTube about how a village was able to contain the Ebola virus outbreak with help from health workers, and by taking immediate measures. I am adding the link here, do give it a watch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCrOde-JYs0
Author: Subhasri Banerjee
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