WHO says Congo faces "very high" risk from Ebola outbreak

WHO says Congo faces

WHO says Congo faces "very high" risk from Ebola outbreak

However, according to him, now the health authorities "there is more money than before, to fight Ebola".

The World Health Organization (WHO), which is working with the Democratic Republic of Congo's health ministry and its partners, announced Thursday that it has deployed 30 experts to conduct surveillance in Mbandaka, following news of the confirmed case there.

"This all will, as you can imagine in this challenging environment, take some time to function optimally". The WHO has called an emergency meeting over a health crisis of potentially "international concern".

Ebola is lethal and highly contagious, which makes it hard to contain - especially in urban environments where people are mobile and come into more contact with others.

At least 44 people are believed to have been infected in the current outbreak and 23 deaths are being investigated.

In 2014, a major Ebola epidemic in west Africa killed more than 11,000 people. Until now, the outbreak was confined to remote rural areas, where Ebola, which is spread by bodily fluids, travels more slowly.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola.

Previously the disease was suspected in patients only in rural parts of the country, but reaching the city of Mbandaka makes the outbreak, which was first reported on May 8, significantly bigger than previously thought. Last May, a small outbreak resulted in five confirmed cases and four deaths in a province neighboring Équateur. "We're certainly not trying to cause any panic in the national or global community, [but] urban Ebola can result in an exponential increase in cases in a way that rural Ebola struggles to do".

WHO says Congo faces

"The scenario has changed, and it has become most serious and worrying, since the disease is now affecting an urban area", said Henry Gray, emergency coordinator in Mbandaka for Doctors Without Borders. "If we don't, then the virus may spread too far and too quickly".

While there is no specific treatment for the deadly disease, which has a 90 percent fatality rate, World Health Organization has shipped thousands of doses of an experimental vaccine to the region.

Mbandaka, a city of nearly 1.2 million, is in a busy travel corridor in Congo's northwest Equateur province and is upstream from the capital, Kinshasa, a city of about 10 million.

"This is a concerning development but we now have better tools than ever before to combat Ebola", Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said of the new urban case.

How "experimental" is this Ebola vaccine?

The first human outbreaks of Ebola occurred in 1976, one in the north of what is now Congo and in the region that is now South Sudan.

Still, while using V920 might not be simple, it has the potential to play a major role in preventing this Ebola outbreak from turning out like the one in West Africa just a couple of years back.

Early symptoms include fever, muscle pain and fatigue, followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes and bleeding - both internal and external - apparent in the gums, eyes, nasal passages and faeces.

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