Health Officials Express Mixed Concerns Over Potential Spread Of Congo Ebola Outbreak; First Cases Likely Appeared In January, WHO Says

Associated Press: Risk of Congo’s latest Ebola outbreak spreading ‘very low’
“The risk of Congo’s latest Ebola outbreak spreading is ‘very low’ because of the remote area, a Congolese disease expert said Wednesday as medical teams arrived on the scene. … ‘The risks of propagation are very low because it is a remote area, it is about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from Mbandaka, the capital of the province of Equateur … so it is unlikely that a patient can leave this area and go to Mbandaka or Kinshasa,’ the capital, said the director of the National Institute of Biological and Bacterial Research, Dr. Jean Jacques Muyembe…” (Wanamilongo/Petesch, 5/9).

Reuters: First reported deaths in Congo Ebola outbreak came in January: WHO
“Cases of hemorrhagic fever were reported in an area of Congo that is facing an Ebola epidemic as far back as December and the first deaths were reported in January, a spokesman for the World Health Organization said in the capital Kinshasa on Thursday…” (Ligodi, 5/10).

STAT: WHO officials fear latest Ebola outbreak in Congo could spread to big cities
“The new Ebola outbreak on the western edge of the Democratic Republic of the Congo has ignited serious concern at the World Health Organization, with signs pointing to an epidemic that may have been underway for weeks or months. Though there are only two confirmed cases at this point, preliminary investigations point to cases in several locations that may date back as far as early this year, Dr. Pierre Formenty, the WHO’s top Ebola expert told STAT. There is also fear that two health care workers may be among the infected, which happens often in Ebola outbreaks and can fuel the disease’s spread…” (Branswell, 5/9).

Thomson Reuters Foundation: Congo Ebola outbreak met with rapid response after West African crisis
“…On Tuesday, Democratic Republic of Congo confirmed two cases of [Ebola]. That same day, WHO helicoptered in a team of experts to the scene and released $1 million in funding. ‘I think with this rapid response we will be able to contain it,’ WHO emergencies director for Africa, Ibrahima Soce Fall, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. ‘Very clearly’ the U.N. agency learned its lesson from the [2014 West African Ebola epidemic], he added…” (Peyton, 5/9).

Additional coverage of this story is available from Agence France-Presse, Axios, Bloomberg, The Hill, PBS NewsHour, Quartz, and VOA News.

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