Wednesday 19 September 2018

Congo Ebola outbreak kills 17 but risk of spreading is 'very low'

Ebola has been confirmed in at least two people in the north-western town of Bikoro. Photo: PA
Ebola has been confirmed in at least two people in the north-western town of Bikoro. Photo: PA

Saleh Mwanamilongo and Carley Petesch

The risk of Congo's latest Ebola outbreak spreading is "very low" because of the remote area, a Congolese disease expert said yesterday as medical teams arrived on the scene.

Ebola has been confirmed in at least two people in the north-western town of Bikoro.

Those cases were discovered after officials last week were alerted to at least 17 deaths linked to a haemorrhagic fever in a nearby area in Equateur Province, according to Congo's health ministry and the World Health Organisation. There are various haemorrhagic fevers including Ebola.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976, when the deadly disease was first identified.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola, which is spread through the bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms.

Without preventive measures, the virus can spread quickly between people and is fatal in up to 90pc of cases.

"The risks of propagation are very low because it is a remote area, it is about 200km from Mbandaka, the capital of the province of Equateur... so it is unlikely that a patient can leave this area and go to Mbandaka or Kinshasa," the capital, said the director of the National Institute of Biological and Bacterial Research, Dr Jean Jacques Muyembe.

"I think it is an epidemic that we will quickly master."

WHO has allocated $1m (€840,000) from its emergency contingency fund to support response activities over the next three months.

Irish Independent

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