Ebola intervention ends in Congo-Brazzaville

MSF's response to the ebola outbreak in Congo-Brazzaville has come to an end. Since March 18, no deaths have been reported from the Mbomo or Kéllé regions, in the north of the country, that were suspected as points of origin. Latest reports put the total number of cases at 57. Of these, 32 cases were reported from the Mbomo region with 20 deaths and a Case Fatality Rate (CFR) of 62.5% - and 25 cases from the Kéllé axis with 23 deaths and a CFR of 92%. Ebola infections were confirmed in a total of six cases. The response to the ebola outbreak started in the first week of January 2002, after reports of ebola-related deaths in a small village on the border with Gabon in the Région de la Cuvette. Assessments were carried out in Mbomo and later in Kéllé following reports of a new chain of infection. Lack of epidemiological data and surveillance made it difficult to chart out the full course and extent of the epidemic. Continuing reports of ebola-related deaths from both Mbomo and Kéllé prompted MSF to set up isolation units and manage cases in order to stop the chains of transmission. MSF also trained local doctors, health care workers and volunteers in ebola case management. MSF's efforts to stop the chains of ebola infection were severely hampered by the extreme remoteness of villages, reluctance of the affected pygmy communities to be isolated and the shortage of experienced international and local health care workers to manage cases of ebola infections. Lessons learned from this experiencene as well as from a larger response to an outbreak in Gulu, Uganda in 2000, will help MSF review its viral heemorrhagic fever epidemic response strategies.