Ebola death toll in the Democratic Republic of Congo jumps to 41 amid fears the latest outbreak will be ‘hard to control’ because the cases are in a conflict zone

Wednesday, August 15, 2018
By Paul Martin

Health officials in the African nation fear 41 have so far been killed by the virus
Officials have confirmed 14 deaths but believe the virus is responsible for more
The latest outbreak was announced just days after another was declared over
A mass vaccination campaign is already underway to stem the latest outbreak

15 August 2018

Forty-one people are now feared to have died from Ebola in a fresh outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Official figures show the death toll has jumped by a fifth in the space of a week as aid workers work round-the-clock to control the situation.

Virologists have already warned the situation is ‘hard to control’ because the cases are in a conflict zone, roamed by armed militias. This means those infected could be displaced into refugee camps, where they could easily spread the virus.

In a desperate attempt to stem the outbreak, the World Health Organization’s chief yesterday called for an end to the fighting in the DRC.

Dr Tedros Adhanom travelled to east DRC to examine the situation in person and told reporters in Switzerland he was ‘actually more worried after the visit than before’.

He said: ‘We call on the warring parties for a cessation of hostilities because the virus is dangerous to all. It doesn’t choose between this group and that group.’

The Ebola virus is considered one of the most lethal pathogens in existence, and was responsible for the brutal pandemic of 2014 that sparked international fear.

The outbreak, feared to have infected 57 people, on the border of Uganda was announced just days after another was declared over in the north west DRC.

Virologists feared it was ‘reminiscent’ of the 2014 Ebola pandemic, which decimated West Africa and killed 11,000 people.

But the new outbreak has already dwarfed the one earlier this summer, and has stoked more fears among the medical community.

Professor Paul Hunter, a virologist at the University of East Anglia, yesterday praised an experimental vaccine that can stop the spread of Ebola.

He said: ‘However, the effectiveness of any immunization campaign depends on the ability to deliver that vaccine to the appropriate people is a timely manner.

‘Unfortunately the latest outbreak is in an area of armed conflict and this poses substantial difficulties for effective prevention.

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