Ebola: an outbreak has been confirmed in the DRC. Here’s what you need to know.

Saturday, May 13, 2017
By Paul Martin

Nine cases of fever, three deaths, and one lab-confirmed case of Ebola virus.

by Brian Resnick
May 12, 2017

Health officials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have confirmed one case of Ebola in what appears to be the first new outbreak of the deadly virus since the massive epidemic that hit West Africa in 2014-’15.

According to reports, nine people in a very remote part of the country recently fell ill with a hemorrhagic fever. The World Health Organization reports three have died, but only one so far has tested positive for Ebola.

Eugene Kabambi, a World Health Organization official, told Reuters that the confirmed case occurred “in a very remote zone, very forested, so we are a little lucky. We always take this very seriously.”

Ebola is a virus known to circulate in populations of chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, and a few other animals in the rainforests of West and Central Africa. But occasionally it infects humans who come contact with those animals’ or fellow infected humans’ bodily fluids, causing intermittent outbreaks. The fever is associated with vomiting and blood loss, and kills around half of all the people it infects.

The WHO is currently deploying health care workers to manage the outbreak and do surveillance to track it. “‘The first teams of epidemiologists, biologists, and experts in the areas of social mobilization, risk communication and community engagement, and also personnel specializing in water, hygiene and sanitation, are scheduled to reach the affected area today or tomorrow,” the WHO reported Friday.

In the 2014-2015 outbreak, more than 11,000 people died, mainly in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia. The DRC was spared the worst of the Ebola outbreak — with just 49 deaths. (The outbreak was declared over in 2016, but the WHO warned of occasional future “flare-ups” of the disease.)

“One case of Ebola is an emergency,” Peter Piot, who co-discovered the virus in the DRC in the 1970s, told the Financial Times. “All epidemics start with one case. You cannot take any risks and you should take all stops out to contain it.”

The world is better prepared for an Ebola outbreak

As Vox’s Julia Belluz reported in December, health officials now have a potent new tool to prevent widespread Ebola outbreak: a vaccine.

The Rest…HERE

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