Published: Sat, May 12, 2018
Medical | By Josefina Yates

DRC: Red Cross team deploys to Ebola epicentre with life-saving supplies

DRC: Red Cross team deploys to Ebola epicentre with life-saving supplies

Nigeria recorded its first case of Ebola in 2014 after a government official named Patrick Sawyer, who had been infected with the virus from Liberia, collapsed on arrival at the airport in country's biggest city, catching health authorities unaware. It can be transmitted via sexual contact.

In the latest DRC outbreak, "it is concerning that of the 21 reported cases so far, 17 are fatal". World Health Organization has however, already alerted those countries and is working with them on border surveillance and preparedness for potential outbreaks.

This is DRC's ninth outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever since the discovery of the virus in the country in 1976.

In a statement on Tuesday, the government said the Ministry of Health has "taken all necessary measures to respond promptly and effectively to this new epidemic of Ebola in the DRC's national territory".

The incident in the town of Bikoro comes more than a year after an outbreak in the country killed four people.

"We have mobilized volunteers and staff who have previous experience in fighting Ebola to work with the affected communities to prevent further spread of the disease", said Grégoire Mateso, President of the DRC Red Cross.

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The Ebola vaccine was developed right at the end of the epidemic that hit West Africa.

On Thursday, the country's health minister announced the first death since the outbreak was declared earlier this week. Most outbreaks have originated in Africa or from lab accidents elsewhere, and have remained small-but people traveling from sites of a 2014 outbreak that roiled west Africa led to isolated cases in locations including the U.K., Italy, Spain and the U.S.

Among humans, the commonest form of infection is through close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of someone who is sick with Ebola or has recently died - a risk in African cultures where relatives typically touch the body of the deceased at funerals.

Having already deployed personal protective equipment on the ground, WHO plans to have a mobile laboratory up and running by this weekend, following approval from the DRC's Ministry of Health. Reminiscing the last outbreak begs the question: Is screening enough? "Ports and harbours alerted as well as the Regional and District Directors are alerted on the signs and symptoms of Ebola." .

In December 2016, trials of an Ebola vaccine found that the shot gave high levels of protection against a strain of the deadly disease. Victims often die of shock but symptoms can be vague, including fever, muscle pain, diarrhoea and nausea.

Unless remediated immediately, the number of deaths for this outbreak could increase.

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