Ebola is a of these plagues where the only name of the name is fear: the virus, which kills about…
Ebola is a of these plagues where the only name of the name is fear: the virus, which kills about half of those who infect and pass through body fluids, is notoriously difficult to contain. Due to the long incubation period, healthy people can spread the fatal disease for weeks before symptoms develop.
This means that the best, perhaps only the way to contain an outbreak like what is currently conflicting with the Democratic Republic of Congo is by obsessively tracking infected persons – monitoring their social circles and their movements and limiting exposure to other people for weeks in time. But containment proves to be so hard in the DRC last week, Robert Redfield, director of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suggested an alarming possibility. The current Ebola epidemic may be uncontrolled, he said, and may for the first time since the fatal virus was first identified in 1
976, be permanently anchored in the population.
The 329 confirmed and likely cases of Ebola infection reported so far have made it the biggest outbreak of the nation’s history, without any signs yet to slow down. Military groups colliding in the DRC Nordkivu Province, the epicenter of the outbreak, distorted health workers attempt to track the movements of people exposed to the virus. An extensive effort to vaccinate more than 25,000 of the highest-risk people has slow transmission rates but has not yet reached the tide. Between 31 October and 6 November, 29 new cases were reported in the DRC, including three healthcare professionals.
Uganda now neighbor for the virus to cross the 545-mile limit it shares with DRC. The border is porous and heavily trafficked, with a large number of local farmers, traders, traders and refugees constantly moving through the area. A control point in the region receives 5,000 people on an average day, with the busiest swelling to 20,000 twice a week on market days.
On Wednesday, the country began to immunize the front line healthcare provider with an experimental vaccine that gave good results in an earlier outbreak. Uganda’s Ministry of Health said that it has 2,100 doses of vaccine available for doctors and nurses working in five border areas. In hospitals in these districts, four special Ebola treatment units have also been designed, with staff in standby to handle any suspected cases. “The risk of cross-border transfer was judged to be very high at national level,” said Uganda’s health minister Jane Ruth Aceng at a press conference last week. “Therefore, the need to protect our healthcare professionals.”
Since the onset of the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, all Uganda victims have been subjected to health scams at official control points – a series of questions and infrared thermometers without contacting the side of the head that reads body temperatures like a highway patrol radar gun. Fever is one of the first red flags of an Ebola infection. The process is not foolproof; Symptoms may take up to three weeks to appear, and many other tropical diseases in the part of Africa can also cause high temperatures.
The great caution arises from the unstable situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Ebola has never before broken into a war zone, so in many ways the current situation is unique and never before seen. However, as major changes have swept across the African continent-balloon populations, billions of Chinese infrastructure investments, the limit of urban wildland-infectious disease physicians increases a lasting change in the form of ebola eruptions. “It’s a cruel irony that better ways and improved connectivity also make it easier for the disease to travel, especially when public health systems are still lagging behind,” said Nahid Bhadelia, a head of Boston University’s National Emerging Infectious Disease Laboratory, which worked on the front line of the 2014 outbreak in Sierra Leone.
For decades, the natural disaster like Ebola eruptions was most similar to an earthquake. One would hit an isolated rural area and healthcare professionals could be quickly converged to treat infected people and seal the disease, but when the disease hits more populated areas or in a conflict zone it is much easier to lose people’s awareness. Knowing how big the outbreak will be becomes impossible. Bhadelia, it will not only be a new epicenter, it will be another example of Ebola’s change profile.
With Uganda already investing considerable resources on that opportunity, I Nternational Public Health Experts are more keen that Ebola extends to areas governed by conflict groups. “We can not afford to go deep into the red security zones where we do not have access,” said Mike Ryan, Deputy General Director for Emergency Response and Response at the World Health Organization. “Ebola uses the cracks, so the more we can keep it open, the better.”
Reached Sunday at his home in Ireland, where he just returned from a month that coordinated the WHO health response in northern Kivu, Ryan expressed cautious optimism that the outbreak began to be a corner. Teams on the ground have finally taken care of what has pushed the second wave of the epidemic, which crossed the city of Beni from mid-September. “It’s almost complete transmission within the healthcare,” says Ryan.
In every outbreak, some people catch the virus at a hospital or clinic. But only in recent weeks, healthcare providers have realized the extent to which Ebola spreads through Beni’s network of more than 300 medical facilities, many of which keep bad patient records. Even as workers who were vaccinated with the victim’s close friends and family, new cases would occur as quiet in the air. Last week, Washington Post reported that between 60 and 80 percent of the newly confirmed cases had no known epidemiological link to previous cases. Ryan says a lot of pressure in recent weeks to completely retrain the case investigators have made a big impact to change it. “We have now linked 93 percent of new cases to known transmission chains,” he says. Monitoring groups have also started using tablets to record contacts and vaccinations. By adding information about the geographic locations for new cases coming in, they begin building models to understand where the virus will be spread next.
“Fear of this thing becomes endemic is real and rational, but we must also see it as a worst case scenario,” said Ryan. “We still have plenty of opportunity to put this virus back in the box, we just need to come behind the people who risk their lives on the front and drive hard for the next three to six weeks. It will be a long March, but I do not think we will raise the white flag yet. “