Just when we thought we were done with it, a new strain of Ebola outbreak has surfaces in Central Africa. Could this possibly be as bad as last time? Lets hope not! But as Dr. Jesse Goodman of Georgetown University stated, “What the 2014 outbreak taught us is two things: Ebola is not going away and we can’t let our guard down.”
Unfortunately, the virus is extremely resilient, but global health officials are working relentlessly to curb the virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Fox News reports that public health official have reported at LEAST 43 cases of people suspected to have the deadly virus, and four confirmed deaths.
World Health Organization and the United States’ Center for Disease Control are both monitoring the outbreak carefully to ensure the outbreak is contained in one region.
‘‘The Likati health district is in a remote area, but contact tracing is essential to contain the outbreak in its focus; the DRC can rely on very experienced health workers for this purpose,” Yokouidé Allarangar, WHO representative in the DRC, said in a statement earlier this month.
This is the eighth epidemic of Ebola in the DRC since the discovery of the virus in 1976 and comes just three years after an outbreak in West Africa killed over 11,000 people and created a global panic. It is still unclear how Ebola outbreaks begin, but researchers theorize that it could come from people eating infected pieces of “bush meat” – the meat of primates and other wild animals sold in local markets – or from bats carrying the carrying the virus.
The DRC may have past experience dealing with Ebola outbreaks, but experts contend that the remoteness of the outbreaks’ hot zone – the northeastern Bas-Uélé province – and the country’s ongoing civil conflict make efforts to contain the virus’ spread difficult.
“The logistics are difficult,” Jesse Goodman, director of Georgetown University’s Center on Medical Product Access, Safety and Stewardship, told Fox News. “It’s a real challenge, but they have identified the area and are tracking a large number of contacts.”
The area – located over 300 miles from the DRC capital of Kinshasa – has very few passable roads and bridges open during this time of the year, so helicopters are required to bring teams and equipment to the town of Likati, where motorcycles take over. Health workers have already built two mobile labs, but a generator in one failed and had to be replaced.
If you are planning to travel outside of the United States, especially if you are pregnant, take extra precautions. You can never be too careful!
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