WHO: Ebola Outbreak in D.R. Congo Second Largest in History
By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo is now “the second largest in history,” according to the World Health Organization. However, the DRC also faces a spike in malaria cases that threatens residents in the Ebola-affected area.
“It’s a tragedy because it should be completely preventable, but it’s not,” J. Stephen Morrison told Huffington Post. Morrison is the director of the Global Health Policy Center, a program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Morrison called this outbreak “highly dangerous,” even though it pales in comparison to the one that began in 2014 in West Africa. That outbreak killed more than 11,300 people and infected 28,600 others.
DRC Ministry of Health Begins Randomized Control Drug Trial for Ebola
The DRC Ministry of Health has begun a randomized control drug trial “to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of drugs used in the treatment of Ebola patients,” WHO announced on Monday.
It is the first multi-drug trial for an Ebola treatment. It will form part of a multi-outbreak, multi-country study that was agreed to by partners under a WHO initiative.
The trial aims to determine which of the four leading Ebola treatments — referred to by to WHO as mAb114, Regeneron, Remdesivir and ZMapp— proves most successful in combating the virus, which can have a high fatality rate.
Latest Outbreak Is the 10th since Ebola Virus Was Identified
The latest outbreak in the DRC — the tenth since the virus was identified in 1976 — was first reported in the village of Mangina in the Mabalako health zone.
The epicenter has now moved from Mangina to the much bigger city of Beni, where the number of confirmed cases has shown a clear increase throughout October, according to Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières). The organization is one of the international health groups working on multiple fronts to treat patients and protect health workers.
Meanwhile, a surge in malaria infections — with symptoms that can mimic Ebola — in Beni has prompted a four-day mass drug administration (MDA) campaign,” the WHO announced
The campaign is designed not only to treat widespread malaria illnesses and deaths, but also to relieve patient pressure on area clinics. Fifty percent of people screened at Ebola treatment centers have been found to have malaria instead of Ebola.
In addition, the threat of terrorism directed at the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa might limit an already restricted flow of U.S. responders to the DRC, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned.