Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is trying to limit the spread of an Ebola outbreak declared in northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
An investigation of the suspected cases shows that 31 people have died since the outbreak started in May. Only 16 cases are confirmed by laboratory tests. The centre of the epidemic is Isiro town and its surroundings, in DRC’s Orientale province. Although the situation remains serious, MSF would like to stress that right now there are only six active cases of Ebola. These cases are identified and admitted to the treatment centre in Isiro. Together with the Congolese Ministry of Health and other organisations, MSF is taking care of the patients and working to contain the outbreak.
“Ebola outbreaks are studied in depth to understand the dynamics of the virus. There are people who are not sick at this moment and are being tested to see if they are Ebola survivors,” says Teresa Sancristóval, MSF emergency desk manager. “All sick patients have been admitted to the treatment centre since its set up.”
MSF has implemented measures to avoid the epidemic from spreading further. The emergency team has set up a treatment centre, supported the training of the Ministry of Health staff to battle the outbreak and is giving psychosocial care to patients and families. The behaviour of the community can also have a big impact on the containment of the epidemic. Proper hygiene measures prevent contagion and are vital to contain the spread of the virus.
Ebola haemorrhagic fever was detected for the first time in humans in 1976 in Zaire (now DRC). It is transmitted through body fluids and, depending on the strain of the virus and people’s genetic susceptibility to the disease, can have a high mortality rate.