Ebola Can 'Transmit Freely' in DR Congo, Death Toll Hits 41


The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that he's even more anxious about the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) after his recent visit to the country, mainly because of the intense security challenge in the virus-hit areas.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) today supports the promotion of good hygiene practices in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to prevent the spread of the most recent Ebola outbreak. "I call on all warring parties to provide secure access to all responders serving affected populations & saving lives". He has since died and tests confirm he had Ebola.

Segoni added that MSF faced difficulties in accessing the Ebola-hit regions due to the volatile security situation and military operations in the area.

Health officials are hoping mAb114 therapy, isolated from a survivor of an Ebola outbreak in 1995, will be effective in this outbreak that so far has 30 confirmed cases, including 14 deaths.

Speaking at a press briefing in Geneva, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhenom Ghebreyesus, stated that his visit to Beni and Mangina - epicentre of the outbreak which started about a week ago - left him "more worried" than he had been over containing the outbreak on the western side of the country, which officially ended late last month. "It doesn't choose between this group or that group".

Ebola is a highly infectious disease that causes a fever and often leads to massive internal bleeding and death.

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Use of the experimental treatment in the field comes on the heels of deployment of an unlicensed vaccine in an earlier outbreak of Ebola in the DRC this year. Tedros called for more aggressive and more flexible means during the fight against the virus. The organization has not yet declared the crisis a public health emergency of worldwide concern - a designation that signals a high risk of global spread.

Currently, the World Health Organization has started a vaccination operation in the outbreak area.

Thanking donors for their support in helping defeat the previous outbreaks in the Equateur Province, Ghebreyesus called on the worldwide community to "speed up the financing" to respond to this new crisis.

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it has trained almost 50 volunteers on safe burials in Beni and Mangina.

The "ring vaccination" approach of first vaccinating health workers, contacts of Ebola victims and their contacts might have to give way to the approach of vaccinating everyone in a certain geographic area such as a village or neighborhood.