Ebola is back in Africa

On February 7, Congolese health officials confirmed an outbreak of deadly Ebola, the fourth in three years.

A woman died from Ebola on February 3 in North Kivu province, Health Minister Eteni Longondo announced. This person was sick a few days before coming for a checkup in a clinic. She then went to Butembo Hospital, but died before she knew the result.

The government immediately tracked down those in close contact with the patient to prevent the epidemic. This is the 12th Ebola outbreak in the Congo since the virus was first detected in the country in 1976. 2018 marked a period of death in East Congo with 2,299 deaths from Ebola.

A child was vaccinated against Ebola in Beni, Congo, on July 13, 2019. Image: AP

Health officials fear Ebola could put enormous pressure on the country’s fragile health system, especially at the risk of the new Covid-19 wave.

“Although early detection helped control epidemics from an early stage, Ebola and Covid-19 pushed Congo health to the limit and could put additional burden on the already seriously affected system,” said Professor Jason. Kindrachuk, Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases at the University of Manitoba, Canada, said. He is also working on survivors of the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Ebola virus is highly contagious through body fluids such as blood or semen. The woman died above was the wife of a patient who once infected with Ebola and recovered. According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the virus can live in semen for more than three years.

WHO is trying to determine the strain of the virus in the patient above to find a link with the previous outbreak. Congo has experienced more than a quarter of a century in conflict and people in the east have lost faith in their home health industry.

Residents in Butembo wondered why it took four days for a woman to be tested for results.

“It’s frustrating because people in close contact have moved and it’s very difficult to find. The government and the Ministry of Health must stop the epidemic as soon as possible,” said Vianey Kasondoli, a Butembo resident.

Mai Dung (According to the AP News)


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