Thursday , August 11 2022

AP Explained: Why this Ebola case is a particular challenge



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JOHANNESBURG – Over 1,000 deaths have now been confirmed in the case of Ebola east Congo, the second worst in history behind West Africa in 2014-16 which killed over 11,300 people. Attacks on health workers exacerbate efforts to include one of the world's most famous diseases. At least 85 have been injured or killed since January.

Here's a look at why the infection is particularly challenging, even as a promising experimental vaccine is widely used for the first time. Nervous health experts watch as the virus spreads in a highly mobile, highly mobile population near the border with Uganda and Rwanda.

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WHAT IS EBOLA?

Ebola is a virus that can spread quickly and can be fatal in up to 90% of cases. The symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and sometimes internal and external bleeding and can start between two and 21 days after infection, according to the World Health Organization.

At least 1,529 Ebola cases have been confirmed and have been reported in this case declared in August, with 1,008 deaths.

The virus is often spread by close contact with people's bodily fluids that show symptoms and with objects such as contaminated sheets. Healthcare workers are often at risk, and burial practices can require close contact with victims spreading the disease.

Although there is no licensed treatment for Ebola, early care such as rehydration and the treatment of other symptoms helps to improve survival opportunities. Experimental treatments have been given to some patients in this case, but their effect has not yet been fully explored.

The Ebola pilot vaccine has been effective, and WHO says a second one could be introduced. Congo's health ministry says more than 110,000 people have been vaccinated, but some including health workers have been rejected.

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WHY IS THIS PRESENT?

Health workers call this the first case of Ebola to happen in a war zone. Dozens of rebel groups are active in north-east Congo, killing hundreds of people in recent years. Attacks have led to a traumatized population that can be wary of people from outside.

Some residents question why so much attention and money is spent on Ebola, a disease not seen in this part of Congo to date, rather than other deadly diseases such as malaria.

In the midst of rumors and misunderstandings, health workers find it difficult to explain the importance of safe burials and other preventative measures. One in four people interviewed in eastern Congo a month after the case started believing that Ebola was not real.

Some people have fled or attacked health workers. An epidemiologist with WHO was shot last month and some doctors were threatening to go on strike indefinitely if health workers are attacked again.

The attacks have led to spices in cases and have damaged the thorough work of tracking people who have been infected. More than 12,000 people are tracked every day, WHO says. Yet there are many new cases unrelated to known ones and many people die at home.

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HOW LONG WILL THIS OUTCOME LAST?

It's hard to say. After some health experts predicted that the case would end within six months. As complications continue to appear, the time frame is pushed backwards.

The chairman of the World Health Organization's expert committee who unanimously decided last month – for the second time – that the case is not yet a global crisis has said that experts are “fairly optimistic” that the case could be included within “Predictable time.”

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