End of the World’s Second Deadliest Ebola Outbreak

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An Ebola vaccine was given to more than 300,000 people during the outbreak in northeastern DRC.Credit: Baz Ratner/Reuters

We are extremely proud to have emerged victorious over an epidemic that has lasted a long time and caused a lot of damage to our population

Jean-Jacques Muyembe Tamfum

After a battle of almost 2 years, the world’s second-deadliest Ebola outbreak has finally come to an end. On 25th June ’20, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government officially declared the epidemic over. The outbreak that started in August 2018 claimed 2,000 lives and infected 3,470 people in northeastern DRC. The announcement was made 42 days after no new cases were reported in the region. 

This is believed to be the world’s second-deadliest Ebola outbreak since the 2014 West Africa epidemic that claimed over 11,000 lives. 

Ebola virus, also known as Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever, is an extremely fatal illness with an average case fatality rate of 50%. Fruit bats of the Pteropodidae family are believed to be natural Ebola virus hosts. Humans tend to get infected by coming in close contact with the blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected animals. Human-to-human transmission occurs via direct contact with blood or body fluids of infected individuals or, contact with objects contaminated with body fluids of infected persons. Symptoms can range from fever, muscle pain, fatigue to rash, impaired kidney and liver function, internal and external bleeding. 

Vaccination is believed to play an important role in preventing outbreaks of the disease. This is the first Ebola outbreak in which the Ebola vaccines were successfully deployed. The vaccine Ervebo, developed by a drug company in New Jersey, was given to over 300,000 people who had been in close proximity to people infected with Ebola. It was found to prevent infection in 80% of the people who were vaccinated. Ervebo is the first FDA-approved vaccine for the prevention of the Ebola Virus. The use of Ervebo together with two antibody-based drugs was seen to reduce deaths among people who were hospitalized soon after being infected.

One of the most important lessons . . . is the need to engage with, work with, enable communities to be knowledgeable, to be empowered to play their role in different ways

Dr. Matshidiso Moeti

Unfortunately, the end of one outbreak seems to have been followed by another. On June 1st a new outbreak was declared in the country’s northwest region. This is the 11th Ebola virus outbreak and has so far claimed over 13 lives and infected more than 25 people. Researchers hope that by implementing similar strategies and by proper infection control the outbreak will be prevented from reaching epidemic status.

The news of the outbreak comes as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country reaches over 7,000 cases.

Reference:

10th Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared over; vigilance against flare-ups and support for survivors must continue. (n.d.). Retrieved July 09, 2020, from https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/25-06-2020-10th-ebola-outbreak-in-the-democratic-republic-of-the-congo-declared-over-vigilance-against-flare-ups-and-support-for-survivors-must-continue

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