“Health officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s north-eastern Orientale Province are urging the population to desist from activities that could put them at risk of contracting the Ebola virus, including contact with infected individuals and the consumption of bushmeat,” IRIN reports. “‘Ebola virus is an animal disease … people in some parts of our country rely on bushmeat for their livelihood … and don’t care to avoid eating meat they’ve got from dead animals that they often find in the bush,’ said Mondoge Vitale, head of disease control at WHO’s Kinshasa office,” according to the news service. “The health ministry has established national- and district-level taskforces and is working with partners, including the [non-governmental organization] Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.N. Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO,” the news service notes, adding, “At least 10 people in the province had died from suspected Ebola by 20 August, according to the [WHO],the news service writes. (8/23).
“Nine people have died in an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Health Minister Felix Kabangue said on Saturday,” Agence France-Presse reports (8/18). “Congolese health officials notified the World Health Organization (WHO) Friday, according to a WHO Global Alert and Response (GAR),” Examiner.com adds (Herriman, 8/17). “The outbreak is in Isiro, a busy town in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Oriental province, which shares a border with Uganda, but the strain of the deadly disease is different to the one that killed 16 there last month, [Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF)] said,” Reuters writes (8/18).
The number of confirmed or suspected cases of Ebola in Uganda has risen to 36, according to a WHO spokesperson, who added the disease remains confined to the rural Kibaale district, NPR’s health blog “Shots” reports. “A team, led by the CDC, WHO and Uganda’s Ministry of Health, are now on the scene to determine the scope of the outbreak and then control it,” according to the blog (Doucleff, 7/31). CNN’s “The Chart” blog reports that 14 people have died of the disease, which has a 25 to 90 percent fatality rate in African outbreaks, according to a WHO fact sheet (7/31).
The Ebola virus outbreak that began last month in Uganda is under control, with health agencies having isolated the 176 people who had even slight contact with people who have contracted the virus, Joaquim Saweka, the WHO representative in Uganda, told reporters on Friday in the capital, Kampala, the Associated Press/NPR reports. At least 16 Ugandans have died of the disease in the most recent outbreak, the news service notes. Doctors were slow to recognize the disease because most patients showed atypical symptoms, the AP adds (8/6).
“Scientists researching the lethal Ebola virus have told [BBC News] that a commercial vaccine to prevent the onset of infection may never be developed,” the news service reports. “Efforts to develop a vaccine have been funded in the main by the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health,” which “have poured millions of dollars into scientific research because of concerns that the virus could be turned into a biological weapon,” the news service writes. But in recent days, two companies that had begun human safety trials of their vaccines, Sarepta and Tekmira, “have been told by the Defense Department to temporarily stop work on their vaccines due to funding constraints.”
“Uganda is now free from Ebola, the Health Ministry said, two months after an outbreak of the deadly virus killed at least 16 people,” Reuters reports. “‘The Ministry of Health has … officially declared an end of the Ebola outbreak that broke out in Kibaale district in July. This follows completion of the 42 days of the post-Ebola surveillance countdown period which is a prerequisite of the World Health Organization,’ it said in a statement late on Thursday,” the news service writes. “Uganda has suffered several Ebola outbreaks before, the biggest in 2000, when 425 people were infected by the virus and more than half of them died,” Reuters notes (Biryabarema, 10/5).
The WHO on Tuesday “said it is continuing to work with authorities from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to stop an Ebola outbreak from spreading, with the number of detected cases having reached 46 in the past week,” the U.N. News Centre reports. Of the detected cases, 19 have been fatal, and 26 other cases have been identified and are being investigated, according to the WHO, the news service notes. “In a news release, WHO said it is working with the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network to provide support by deploying experts to the field to work with partners,” and “the country’s ministry of health is working on an epidemiological investigation to identify all possible chains of transmission of the illness and ensure that appropriate measures are taken to interrupt the transmission, and stop the outbreak,” the news service writes (9/18).
“While Ebola continues to kill in the Democratic Republic of Congo, an outbreak of the virus in neighboring Uganda appears to be coming to an end, the World Health Organization said Monday, reporting that no new cases of the deadly virus had been confirmed in Uganda for a month,” the Los Angeles Times’ “World Now” blog reports. “The Ugandan outbreak was first declared by its health ministry in late July, spurring health officials and the president to warn Ugandans against handling dead animals and burying those who might have died from the virus,” the blog writes, noting, “Since the Ugandan outbreak began, 24 people are believed to have suffered from the virus, including 17 who died, the United Nations agency said.” However, “neighboring Congo is still grappling with a separate outbreak of the virus,” the blog adds, writing, “As of late August, the Congo outbreak had sickened 24 people and killed 11 more in the northeastern region of Province Orientale” (Alpert, 9/3).
“An outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever has claimed possibly as many as 31 lives in the northeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo since May, Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi said Thursday,” Agence France-Presse reports. “Numbi said an international committee for technical and scientific coordination in the fight against Ebola had carried out retrospective research to find previous cases, which raised the death toll,” according to the news agency (9/13). “We can expect an increase in the number of cases as more people are tracked. These are not necessarily new cases,” WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said, adding, “I want to stress that this is a serious outbreak, and there is a risk of the Ebola virus spreading, but we would not say that it’s out of control,” NPR’s health blog “Shots” reports (Doucleff, 9/13). “The latest WHO figures show there are now 65 probable or suspected cases of Ebola in Congo, with 108 people under surveillance,” Reuters notes (9/13). “Last month an outbreak of a more deadly Ebola strain in neighboring Uganda killed 16 people, but health workers say the two outbreaks do not appear to be related,” according to BBC News (9/13).
Uganda “has overcome a violent past, but hope is daily threatened by a force more deadly than any warlord or civil unrest”: the mosquito, Ugandan Health Minister Christine Ondoa writes in a GlobalPost opinion piece. According to the WHO, “Uganda has the highest incidence of malaria in the world,” and the disease is endemic in more than 95 percent of the country, she notes. Malaria “deeply affect[s]” Uganda’s economy, Ondoa says, noting Ugandans spend 25 percent of their incomes to treat and prevent the disease; children miss “countless school days,” and the disease renders some developmentally impaired after becoming infected. “As a result of these tremendous losses, African economists estimate that, if unchecked, malaria’s toll on Uganda’s annual GDP will rise over the next five years to as much as $3.2 billion,” she states.