DR Congo: Armed and ready for the new Ebola outbreak

for almost two years ongoing Ebola outbreak in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is not always contained yet. Now, it was 1200 miles away, in the

DR Congo: Armed and ready for the new Ebola outbreak

for almost two years ongoing Ebola outbreak in the East of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is not always contained yet. Now, it was 1200 miles away, in the North-West, a further outbreak was confirmed. Four people Dead, the health Ministry confirmed on Monday. The children's Fund, the United Nations, UNICEF, spoke of five dead, and four other Infected. The health Minister of the country, Eteni Longondo, voice in the DW-Interview of 12 suspected cases (as of Tuesday).

the capital of the province of Équateur, Mbandaka is Affected. In the vicinity of the navigable part of the river Congo, the outbreak could spread as an important transportation route. With the Ebola deal is for the province is not new. Two years ago grass the Virus focused once already about two and a half months in the area. 54 people were infected at that time, of them 33 died.

Fast response is crucial

The experiences of 2018 can pay off now. "It is a very positive sign of how quickly the outbreak was noticed," says Natalie Roberts from the organization "Doctors without borders". "The people who work in the Region, understand the symptoms of Ebola, much better, you will have access to Tests, and can quickly get results."

that's Why she is also optimistic that this outbreak can be contained in the North West quickly. The patients died all in the second half of may. A new outbreak of the disease was relatively quickly recognized, unlike in the case of the largest Ebola epidemics in West Africa from 2014 to 2016 and since 2018 in the East of the Congo ongoing. Roberts says: "We had lost control of the spread before an outbreak was noticed." The Problem: The symptoms of Ebola resemble those of Malaria.

The faster a stove is, the less the Infected is alleged to have moved, the smaller the network, the contact persons, the must be isolated or prophylactically to be treated. it is ideal In this regard, the containment works in a similar way as the fight against the Coronavirus, for the contact chains in almost all countries of the world more or less successfully be reproduced. The Congo is, according to Johns Hopkins University to date, almost 3500 Corona cases and 75 Deaths, many in the capital, Kinshasa.

for the First time, there is a vaccine

In the fight against Ebola added to this, the development in the field of medicine is significantly more than in the previous outbreaks. By the end of 2019, both the US and the European Union had approved the vaccine Ervebo, a second research is carried out. Ervebo may be used according to the manufacturer, Merck, in the meantime, also in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Burundi. According to the Congolese Minister of health, vaccines and drugs should be Équateur brought.

Prior to its approval, the substance has already been used in the emergency outbreaks. Two years ago, the contact persons from Infected and health-care personnel were vaccinated in Équateur, a few Thousand people:.

Professor Marylyn Addo, Director of infectious diseases at the University hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, one of the studies on the efficacy and tolerability of the vaccine is directed. "The vaccinated 2018, could have a protection," says the Doctor. Still, there is, however, a few data on how long the immunization lasts really.

so Far, the vaccine has been administered in a so-called latch-vaccination: "You vaccinate all the contact persons and the neighbors. Trying to close an outbreak around a Impfriegel," says Addo.

challenges in practice

So it was tried in the East of the Congo, where the outbreak in April was almost as curbed before some of the new cases were known. Since the outbreak in early August of 2018, there were 3463 Ebola-Infected, nearly two-thirds of them died.

More than 300,000 people in Eastern Congo, the vaccine. There were some challenges, for example, the vaccine must be stored at minus 80 degrees Celsius. "That is not in a country like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where there is always a reliable electricity or roads," says Natalie Roberts, who has worked in 2019, a year and a half long in the vaccination programme of the "Doctors without borders" in North-Kivu. to war

Since it is still an experimental vaccine, was limited by the amount of doses of the vaccine. Another Problem was that some people got Ebola, even though they were vaccinated. That is, they were infected at the time of vaccination already, but still within the incubation period. "The people didn't understand a lot of people," says Roberts.

The human factor

parts of the population in Eastern Congo mistrusted the flown-in helpers, repeatedly stormed by armed militias, individual Ebola centers, the Infected fled.

Roberts, there are also errors in auxiliary organizations. "We are building a System that is only for Ebola patients." Instead, "Physicians should understand the limits" better, where the Sick usually. "They tend to go to your health service of the trust. This can be the local pharmacy, traditional healer or a local private clinic. You don't necessarily go to a non-government organization, which comes from the outside." Aid agencies need to adapt to the behavior of the people, not Vice versa.

Ebola is again and again

come, But no matter how determined against Ebola is being fought: The disease will always recur, explains Addo, because the Virus also occurs in animals. "From there, the disease can skip back to the human species." As counter-examples Addo called the measles: "measles, there are only humans as a Reservoir. That is to say have been eradicated, if we eradicate in humans, the measles, like we have the pox, you come back."

Addo, the country holds in principle for armed against further outbreaks: "Until the tenth outbreak [in Eastern Congo] were all relatively small. The democratic Republic of the Congo has always managed - even without a vaccine at that time - to get these outbreaks under control."

Roberts of the "Doctors without borders" expects that, in future, more frequent bursts to be detected - what is assessed positively: "I think that outbreaks has always existed, only it didn't notice the people at two, three cases." In the meantime, many people are aware maybe more for Ebola and, therefore, an epidemic will be discovered sooner.

do Not forget other diseases may be: In the year 2019, more than 6,000 people to measles - more than Ebola died in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

employees: Eric Topona

author: Uta stone Weir

*The post "DR Congo: Armed and ready for the new Ebola outbreak," is published by Deutsche Welle. Contact with the executives here.

Deutsche Welle
Updated Date: 03 June 2020, 14:26

You need to login to comment.

Please register or login.