World Health Organization preparing for worst-case Ebola scenario


"We have three healthcare workers infected and one who has been reported as of yesterday as having died".

The disease is endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and this is the nation's ninth outbreak since the discovery of the virus in the country in 1976.

"Once Ebola gets into urban areas, especially poor urban slums, it's extremely hard to get rid of the disease". The cases were unrelated to the epidemic in West Africa that year in which more than 11,000 people died.

Most of the country's outbreaks burn out quickly because they occur in relatively remote areas-but each has had a high fatality rate.

Nine neighbouring countries have now been warned of the potential spread of Ebola.

"It is an absolutely dire scene in terms of infrastructure", Salama said.

"There are very few paved roads, very little electrification, access is extremely hard. It is basically 15 hours by motorbike from the closest town".

On Wednesday, the Government announced that all travelers coming to Kenya from the DRC through various entry points will be screened.

Moreover, the disease is at the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in Central Africa.

Normally a remote setting would reduce the chance of the disease spreading.

The cases were first reported on May 3, and medical teams supported by World Health Organization and medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) went to take samples two days later. Will the world be better prepared this time?

The response "is going to be extremely challenging, and very costly", he said.

If they are needed, "WHO is in discussions with the government and, if pertinent, will seek approval from the national regulatory authority and the Ethics Review committee to use vaccines against Ebola as part of the response", spokesman Tarik Jasarevik said. "Thirty-four percent of contacts refused vaccination although they had been exposed to the disease".

"It is an experimental vaccine that has to be kept between negative 60 and negative 80 [degrees] Celsius".

"This is not a simple logistical effort".

There is no specific treatment for Ebola.

"The basic bread and butter of epidemiology, of finding cases, finding contacts, isolation and regular support and care, community mobilisation are what will break the back of this (outbreak)".

Health officials declared an Ebola outbreak in the country's northwest on Tuesday after lab tests confirmed the deadly virus in two cases from the town of Bikoro in the Equateur province.

Rapidly responding to Ebola is key to stopping the outbreak before it gets out of control.

In the latest DRC outbreak, "it is concerning that of the 21 reported cases so far, 17 are fatal".