MSF responds to Ebola outbreak in Congo Brazzaville

Ebola victim © Marcus Bleasdale Click on image for larger view The MSF team has set up an isolation centre with water supply and latrines for patients in Mbomo. They have also trained local nurses providing an overview of Ebola, the principles of isolation and the practice of donning and removing protective clothing.
An outbreak of the highly contagious disease Ebola is taking place in the Cuvette Ouest province in Congo Brazzaville. Ebola haemorrhagic fever is one of the most virulent diseases known to mankind. There currently exists no vaccine or cure for Ebola, and once contracted the chance to die is 50-90%. Given its contagious nature, effective and timely management of an outbreak is the only way to fight the disease. This is the third Ebola outbreak in less than three years in Congo Brazzaville. This past weekend, an MSF team has seen confirmed Ebola victims in two locations: 33 cases and 15 deaths in the village Mbomo and 3 deaths in Mbanza. Due to heavy rains in the past weeks, the villages are very isolated; by car from Brazzaville it took the MSF team 4 days to get there (a distance of only 728 Km). "It is terrible that these people have to endure repeated outbreaks of this horrible disease," said MSF Head of Mission Paul Foreman. "Since the first epidemic in 2002 more than 200 people have died of Ebola in Cuvette Ouest; the Zaire strain of the virus (positively identified in each outbreak) has up to 90% mortality, so each new outbreak brings terror and social dislocation to the entire population. "It is most distressing that five trained healthworkers have now died of Ebola in Cuvette Ouest since 2002, and yet we see very little effort to improve access to healthcare, train new staff or care for the victims of this and other sicknesses in the Republic of Congo." The team has set up an isolation centre with water supply and latrines for patients in Mbomo. They have also trained local nurses providing an overview of Ebola, the principles of isolation and the practice of donning and removing protective clothing. Furthermore, they will train burial teams using culturally sensitive yet safe techniques for preparing & burying the dead. They will provide protection materials to patients that refuse to go to the isolation centre but instead choose to stay with their families at home, and they will try to assist with the medical needs of local residents that have not fled the village.