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Why does Ebola keep coming back?



  Healthcare workers in Monrovia in 2014

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Getty Images

The Ebola virus has again prevailed in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. While it is impossible to predict exactly where and when the next eruption will take place, we now know much more about how to prevent a crisis.

The news of an Ebola outbreak in the city of Bikoro in northwestern DR Congo immediately brings to light Note the horror of the epidemic that claimed 1

1,000 lives between 2014 and 2016 and infected 28,000 people in West Africa.

It is a nightmare that nobody wants to experience again – or has to.

Since April 4 in the Democratic Republic of the Congo There were more than 30 possible cases – with 18 deaths – although so far only two incidents have been confirmed as Ebola.

Why does Ebola keep coming back and what work is being done to prevent a repeat of the tragedy in West Africa?

Uncontrolled

Ebola can rapidly spread from contact with only small amounts of body fluid from those infected. His early flu-like symptoms are not always obvious.

His appearance in Bikoro – a market town near other local towns well connected by large rivers and near the state border – is a cause for concern.

an area where people connect, trade and travel – an environment ripe for the spread of disease.

The West African epidemic of 2014/16 began in a small border village in Guinea, whose first victim was a two-year-old boy who died in December 2013.

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Getty Images [196590000] 19659016] Caption

The last Ebola outbreak in DRC was in 2017, killing four people

The disease quickly spread through Guinea and its neighbors Sierra Leone and Liberia and spiraled out of control as it entered urban centers.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is thousands of miles away from the West African countries devastated by this epidemic.

That it should appear so far away is no surprise.

The Ebola virus was traced back to two simultaneous outbreaks in 1976 – 151 people died in the Nzara region of southern Sudan and 280 in the Yambuku region near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

This latest outbreak is the ninth in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where all three Ebola epidemics have occurred since the 2014/16 epidemic.

A total of 24 epidemics have been recorded – in addition to the 2014/16 epidemic – in West and Central Africa, including the DRC, Uganda, Sudan and Gabon. The number of deaths ranged from 1 to 280.

While we can identify high-risk areas, it is unrealistic to expect that we could ever eradicate this disease and have no idea when or where the next outbreak will occur. [19659005] Fruit bats are believed to be the main host of the disease, but they are also introduced into the human population through close contact with the blood, organs or other body fluids of other infected animals. These can be chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, antelopes and porcupines.

Search for & # 39; patient zero & # 39;

However, we can prevent outbreaks from turning into epidemics and better protect people.

A quick and well-coordinated response can ensure that the disease is contained early, so that as few people as possible become ill and die.

For example, an outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo was quickly curtailed nearly a year ago.

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AFP

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Thousands died when Ebola reached West Africa in 2014/16

It was located in a very remote area in the northern region of the country, farther from the borders and therefore perhaps less of a risk than the current outbreak.

But an immediate response was still critical, meaning that the impact was limited to four deaths and four survivors.

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First-Response Teams of Health Workers and Scientists The DRC, World Health Organization and relief organizations are now in the area of ​​the recent outbreak.

Determining the burden of the virus and tracking all possible transmissions will be their priority.

They will work to identify "patient zero" as soon as possible.

You will want to get to know all the people they came in contact with and all the people they were in contact with

This must happen as soon as possible.

Suspected patients and the people they came in contact with are being cared for in local health care facilities

Conscientious hygiene measures will be a top priority – including the use of goggles, gowns and gloves to remove splashes of body fluids or other contact to block with infected materials.

Communication for all who are at risk is crucial, and the response teams will ensure that all local people have the best information.

Blood samples from current outbreak patients were sent to the National Laboratory in Kinshasa for testing.

Vaccine stored

There are five identified strains of the Ebola virus, the most deadly of which are those of the Zaire tribe.

This is the burden of the recent outbreak for which there is now an emergency vaccine

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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A suspected Ebola casualties will be dealt with in 1976

In December 2016, trials of this vaccine – funded by the Wellcome Trust, the UK and Norwegian governments – confirmed a high level of protection.

It was rapidly developed during the epidemic of 2014-2016, but also came later. Significant impact was achieved at the time.

It is not yet fully licensed, but thanks to global efforts, it has proven to be safe for human use, with 300,000 cans stored.

Crucially, it would be free for patients and could be in the region within three to four days.

The WHO Guidelines recommend that anyone suspected of Ebola outbreaks before vaccination should be suspected of all patients, contacts and health workers are at risk. The decision of the DRC Ministry of Health to administer this vaccine is a decision of the DRC Ministry of Health.

The DRC's response to recent outbreaks has shown that the country's government is well prepared.

But no country could or should expect this alone.

Global support and an early, well-coordinated response are essential to ensuring that outbreaks are effectively contained.

This outbreak will be a challenge for local teams on the ground.

But it is also a challenge and a chance for the world community to prove that it has learned lessons from the West African epidemic.

We can not hope that Ebola just disappears, but we can hope to take it so routine can be quickly stopped.

About this work

This analysis object was commissioned by the BBC by an expert for an external organization.

Dr. Charlie Weller is head of vaccines at the Wellcome Trust, which sees itself as a global charitable foundation committed to improving the health of everyone. Follow @DrCharlieWeller .

The Wellcome Trust has announced an initial fund of up to £ 2 million to support a rapid response to the current Ebola outbreak in the DRC.

Edited by Duncan Walker


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