partlycloudy
Saturday July 21st, 2018 6:58PM

Congo's Ebola outbreak reports 1st confirmed urban case

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Congo's latest Ebola outbreak has spread to a city of more than 1 million people, a worrying shift as the deadly virus risks traveling more easily in densely populated areas.

Medical teams hurried to track down anyone thought to have had contact with infected people as this vast, impoverished nation — a veteran of eight previous Ebola outbreaks — for the first time is fighting the virus in an urban area.

Two suspected cases of hemorrhagic fever were reported in the Wangata health zones that include Mbandaka, the capital of northwestern Equateur province. The city is about 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Bikoro, the rural area where the outbreak was announced last week, said Congo's Health Minister Oly Ilunga.

One sample proved positive for Ebola, he said. That brings to three the number of confirmed Ebola cases. A total of 44 cases have now been reported, including 23 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. The total includes 20 probable cases and 21 suspected ones.

"We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone," Ilunga said, adding he was worried because Mbandaka is densely populated and at the crossroads of Equateur province.

The city of almost 1.2 million is on the Congo River, a busy travel corridor in the vast country and upstream from the capital, Kinshasa, a city of about 10 million. Mbandaka is an hour's plane ride from Kinshasa or a four-to-seven-day trip by river barge, according to a map issued Thursday by the United Nations.

"Since the announcement of the alert in Mbandaka, our epidemiologists are working in the field with community relays to identify people who have been in contact with suspected cases," Ilunga said. WHO said it was deploying about 30 experts to conduct surveillance in the city.

The aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said 514 people who are thought to have been in contact with infected people were now being monitored.

Those exposed to the suspected Ebola cases will for the first time in Congo receive Ebola vaccinations, the health minister said.

WHO has sent 4,000 doses of the experimental Ebola vaccine to Congo and said it will send thousands more in the coming days as needed.

"This is a concerning development but we now have better tools than ever before to combat Ebola," Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, said of the new urban case.

The experimental vaccine has been shown to be highly effective against Ebola. It was tested in Guinea during the outbreak that killed more than 11,300 people in West Africa from 2014 to 2016. The vaccine is thought to be effective against the Zaire strain of Ebola found in Congo.

WHO has said it will use the "ring vaccination" method. It involves vaccinating contacts of cases and suspected cases, contacts of those contacts and health care and other front-line workers.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976, when the deadly disease was first identified.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola, which is spread through the bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms or those who have died from the disease. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding.

Without preventive measures, the virus can spread quickly and is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.

___

Petesch reported from Dakar, Senegal.

___

Follow Africa news at https://twitter.com/AP_Africa

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Health, AP World News
© Copyright 2018 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Congo's Ebola outbreak reports 1st confirmed urban case
Congo's Ebola outbreak reports 1st confirmed urban case; 'a concerning development'
8:51AM ( 8 minutes ago )
Sea otters 'stuck' despite comeback in California
Despite decades of government protection, southern sea otters on West Coast still only occupy about a fraction of their historic range.
8:44AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Bosnia says it will stop illegal migration amid increase
Bosnia says it wants to stop illegal entry of migrants as the Balkan country struggles to cope with the influx of people trying to reach Western Europe
8:34AM ( 25 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
US births hit a 30-year low, despite good economy
Last year saw the lowest number of U.S. births in 30 years, with birth rates declining not only for women in their teens and 20s but also women in their 30s
12:22AM ( 8 hours ago )
House OKs expansion of private care at VA, budget crisis fix
House votes to give veterans more freedom to see doctors outside the Veterans Affairs health system
8:33PM ( 12 hours ago )
FDA approves 1st nonopioid drug to ease withdrawal symptoms
FDA approves 1st nonopioid treatment to ease withdrawal symptoms
7:06PM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Health
Sea otters 'stuck' despite comeback in California
Despite decades of government protection, southern sea otters on West Coast still only occupy about a fraction of their historic range.
8:44AM ( 15 minutes ago )
Bosnia says it will stop illegal migration amid increase
Bosnia says it wants to stop illegal entry of migrants as the Balkan country struggles to cope with the influx of people trying to reach Western Europe
8:34AM ( 25 minutes ago )
Cannes doc: Whitney Houston was molested by Dee Dee Warwick
Friends of Whitney Houston allege the singer was molested as a child by her cousin Dee Dee Warwick in a documentary that premiered Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival
8:32AM ( 27 minutes ago )
Trump draws rebuke for 'animal' remark at immigration talk
President Donald Trump is drawing criticism for referring to immigrants as "animals" after a sheriff at a White House roundtable discussion on so-called sanctuary cities policy in California made a comment about stopping gangs at the border
8:31AM ( 28 minutes ago )
Trump draws rebuke for calling some immigrants 'animals'
President Donald Trump is drawing criticism from Democrats after referring to some immigrant gang members as "animals" during a White House roundtable discussion
8:26AM ( 33 minutes ago )