UNICEF at forefront of awareness campaign to contain Ebola outbreak in DRC

Maricruz Casares
Junio 10, 2018

UNICEF said June 5 that almost 300,000 people had been screened since the Ebola outbreak was confirmed May 8 by the World Health Organization.

His optimism was echoed by Peter Salama, MD, the WHO's deputy director-general of emergency response.

World Health Organization is now entering a new phase in which it moves its focus from urban areas to the extremely remote forest areas in north-western Congo where the outbreak began.

"This tells us the response is having an impact in those two locations", said Salama, referring to the robust ring vaccination campaign launched 2 weeks ago with Merck's VSV-EBOV.

"The latest case, confirmed on Thursday, was in the remote Iboko health zone in the northwest, an indication that the outbreak is ongoing, he said".

Ebola is a serious illness that is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads from human to human through the bodily fluids of people who exhibit symptoms.

Among the reported cases, 38 have been confirmed by laboratories so far.

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Mr Salama, who just returned from a two-day visit to the DRC said: "There's been very strong progress in the outbreak response, particularly in relation to two of the initial three sites: Mbandaka and Bikoro".

He warned, however, that experts are not in a position to document all chains of transmission of the virus, so "there may still yet be unknown chains out there and there may still be surprises in this outbreak". This is the first time such treatments are available in the midst of an Ebola outbreak. It's the identification and follow-up of all people who may have come into contact with a person infected with the infectious disease. It's a "major boots on the ground" effort that takes several hours to trace each and every contact, he said.

However, the Congolese government is considering other experimental treatments that it is evaluating for use.

"It's clearly very hard to evaluate efficacy of Ebola products in outbreaks", said Moorthy, who said scientists rely on efficacy data derived from experiments in non-human primates (monkey models).

Most recently, a team of Chinese experts will arrive in Kinshasa on Friday to join the worldwide effort, which includes nations from the European Union, Japan and the United States in assisting the Congolese health authorities, according to the Ministry of Health.

"We're cautiously optimistic but there's a lot of very tough work to do in phase two before we say that we're on the top of this outbreak", said Dr. Salama.

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