Nov 23, 2018

2. Ebola outbreak in Congo getting close to becoming 2nd biggest ever

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Data: Ministry of Health DRC; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to steadily grow — creeping closer to becoming the second largest outbreak recorded globally (current second highest is 425 cases). Today, the DRC reported 399 confirmed and probable cases for this outbreak that started Aug. 1.

Why it matters: The country is grappling with the combination of a deadly virus in areas of conflict, multiple other diseases, and attempts to prepare safe locations for upcoming elections next month.

DRC's Ministry of Health says it is sending additional rapid response teams for "defensive" purposes to the city of Butembo, which has roughly 1 million people and is located south of the epicenter of Beni. There's been a worrisome uptick in cases there.

The World Health Organization issued an External Situation Report Wednesday that says they "remain confident" the outbreak can be contained, despite the continued challenges.

  • This was despite last Friday's deadly attack in Beni that forced the WHO and others to halt for several days their work to quarantine, vaccinate and treat people who were in contact with known infected people.
  • WHO's report also notes Ebola is not the only disease DRC's Ministry of Health is fighting — there's also vaccine-derived poliovirus, as well as cholera, measles and monkeypox.
  • Meanwhile, the WHO also warned that more Ebola cases are being reported in children between the ages of two and 17 years old, which is unusual for this disease.
  • However, WHO's Peter Salama praised the community outreach programs, which he says has been encouraging more people to seek treatment earlier — a key factor in stopping the spread in the disease.

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