Congo ebola outbreak: Deadly virus and cholera killing HUNDREDS amid political unrest

Monday, January 21, 2019
By Paul Martin

DEMOCRATIC Republic of Congo is racing to contain a deadly cholera outbreak that has swept through conflict-ravaged villages and now spread to Lubumbashi, the country’s second-biggest city, senior health official Modeste Balloy Kusiwa said.

Mon, Jan 21, 2019

The cholera outbreak has killed more than 60 people in the south-eastern Katanga region, said the local health minister, who stressed that “dozens” of deaths had been recorded in Lubumbashi. The disease has killed 64 people since it broke out at the end of August, he continued. About 1,304 cases have been recorded. Cholera, which is endemic in DR Congo, is an acute diarrhoea disease that can kill within hours if left untreated.

But the vast central African nation is currently battling not one but two deadly epidemics, putting a major strain on relief efforts.

More than 400 people have been killed in the outbreak of Ebola in east Congo that began in early August and has infected at least 658 people, health officials said last week.

The death rate in the current epidemic – the country’s biggest and the world’s second-largest in history – is more than 60 percent, according to World Health Organisation (WHO) data.

But repeated attacks by armed, violent rebels on civilians, Ebola patients, aid workers, Congolese soldiers and UN peacekeepers have hobbled efforts to contain the deadly disease.

Ebola spreads through contact with bodily fluids. It causes haemorrhagic fever with severe vomiting, diarrhoea and bleeding.

It is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. The outbreak is concentrated in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

The WHO warned last week that the risk of the disease spreading across borders remains “very high” at national and regional levels and said it was working urgently with DR Congo and its neighbours – Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan – to limit that possibility.

Global health teams in DR Congo have also expressed concern that the ongoing election dispute could deepen public district and allow the epidemics to spiral out of control.

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