Second Worst Ever Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in Congo: Five months and Counting

Reepa Agrawal
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02 Feb, 2019

Ebola virus disease has yet again clutched Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) since August 2018 and the outbreak continues. Till now total 689 cases have been reported and 422 deaths. This also includes significant number of cases in children 1-4 years and infants.

This is the tenth such outbreak since 1976 and the second worst ever according to World Health Organization (WHO). This deadly viral disease is a definite health threat for people of DRC and its neighbouring areas, although it is alarming for the entire international community.

Ebola virus is a RNA virus causing acute severe hemorrhagic disease which can be fatal. It affects the macrophages, endothelial cells, dendritic cells. It is believed that fruit bats are its natural host and is transmitted by wild animals like gorillas to humans. Human to human transmission occurs via contact with body fluids and even with contact with dead infected human bodies. Sexual transmission is also noted. Several health care workers caring for infected patients have contracted the disease. Hence barrier nursing is extremely important.

The pillars of Ebola response include lab testing, risk communication, case management and infection prevention, coordination, safe burials, surveillance and contact tracing. Newer drugs trials are underway and being used as emergency drugs after expert consultation as a last resort. The drugs include a monoclonal antibody (mAb114) and an antiviral drug (remdesvir). Another trial including REGN3470-3471-3479, a monoclonal antibody cocktail is also under consideration. The research response including vaccination is also being carried out. The type 9f vaccination used for this purpose is known as ring vaccination which means to vaccinate even the contacts of contacts. A non-commercial investigational vaccine called rVSV- ZEBOV is a genetically engineered vaccine made of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) to contain a protein of Zaire Ebola virus. It has been recommended by WHO in Zaire Ebola outbreaks until a licensed vaccine is available.



Source: WHO, ebolavirus.net
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