Ebola outbreak has spread to city: WHO
GENEVA The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has spread to a city, the World Health Organisation said yesterday, fuelling concern the deadly virus may prove tougher to contain.
The fresh outbreak, publicly declared on May 8 with 23 deaths so far, had previously been confined to a very remote, rural area in Equateur Province in the northwest of the country.
But the UNs health agency confirmed that an Ebola case has been recorded in the city of Mbandaka, which lies roughly 150km from the Bikoro area where the outbreak originated.
This is a concerning development, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
Last week, a top WHO official warned that if the virus reached Mbandaka, the DRC could be confronted with yet another Ebola crisis.
The citys population has been variously estimated at between 700,000 and 1.2 million.
If we see a town of that size infected with Ebola, then we are going to have a major urban outbreak, the WHOs head of emergency response, Peter Salama, told reporters last week.
The agency said yesterday it was deploying around 30 experts to Mbandaka to conduct surveillance in the city, including rapid efforts to trace all contacts of the new urban case.
Forty-four cases have been reported in the outbreak so far, including three confirmed, 20 probable and 21 suspected, according to the WHOs tally.
Ebola is not only lethal but also highly contagious, which makes it difficult to contain and roll back.
Lacking an arsenal of drugs
The UNs health agency confirmed that an Ebola case has been recorded in the city of Mbandaka, which lies roughly 150km from the Bikoro area where the outbreak originated.
to treat or prevent the virus, doctors use classic tactics of isolating patients and tracing people who have been in contact with them.
That challenge amplifies greatly in urban environments where people move around more and have more contact with others than in the countryside.
Adding to the headache is the fact that the virus has broken out anew in one of the worlds most vulnerable and volatile countries.
This is the ninth time DRC has been hit with Ebola since 1976, when the deady viral disease was first identified in thenZaire by a Belgian-led team.
The virus is widely regarded as one of the worlds most terrifying as it can spread easily and kill quickly.
WHO has also confirmed that the current outbreak is the same strain of the virus that broke out in West Africa in 2013 and went on to kill more than 11,300 people, the deadliest ever Ebola epidemic. AFP