Ebola outbreak claims 2,000 lives in Congo, CDC increases response
An Ebola health worker is shown at a treatment center in Beni, Eastern Congo on April 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Al-hadji Kudra Maliro)
The year-long Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo has claimed the lives of 2,006 people while cases of the highly infectious disease surpassed 3,000 in August, according to the country’s health ministry.
Despite access to vaccine and developmental treatments, the epidemic continues to spread and has made its way to previously unaffected areas including North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a staggering 203 confirmed cases were reported in the period of 21 days in August.
In an effort to combat the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has doubled the number of outbreak response experts and will have 30 responders on the ground by Sept. 1.
“CDC is prepared for a long-term public health response in DRC and its neighbouring countries, and we agree with our WHO colleagues about the need for a change in the response to bring this outbreak to an end,” said Dr. Robert R. Redfield, CDC director, in a news release.
The CDC responders will work on: case investigation, disease tracking, contact tracing, safe burials, community engagement, lab testing, and border health.
Security issues and political instability in the affected areas remain a concern, making this epidemic more challenging to control than the previous outbreak in West Africa in 2014.
Yet, Alex Azar, secretary of Health and Human Services said the U.S. government and their partners “will not rest until the outbreak is ended,” in a statement on Aug. 29. “Stopping this Ebola outbreak will remain a top global health priority for the Trump Administration.”
On Thursday, a nine-year-old Congolese girl tested positive for Ebola in Uganda after travelling from Congo, according to Uganda’s health minister. The girl was immediately isolated after being screened for the virus at an official border crossing.
The Associated Press reports that cases of cross-border contamination are uncommon because of stringent screening procedures in Uganda and Rwanda.