Ebola Epidemic declared by Congo
Source | The Hindu
GS Paper II: Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector or Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
- This is the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 11th outbreak of Ebola since the virus was first discovered in the country in 1976.
- The disease was first identified in 1976, in two simultaneous outbreaks: One in Nzara (a town in South Sudan) and the other in Yambuku (Democratic Republic of the Congo), a village near the Ebola River from which the disease takes its name.
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Context: Ebola epidemic has been declared by the Democratic Republic of Congo in the western city of Mbandaka.
Why Ebola Epidemic declared by Congo is dangerous this time?
This is the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 11th outbreak of Ebola since the virus was first discovered in the country in 1976. The city of Mbandaka and its surrounding area were the site of Democratic Republic of the Congo’s 9th Ebola outbreak, which took place from May to July 2018.
The present announcement comes as a long, difficult and complex Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo is in its final phase, while the country also battles COVID-19 and the world’s largest measles outbreak.
Few Details about Ebola Virus Disease (EVD)
What is it?
- Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.
- The disease was first identified in 1976, in two simultaneous outbreaks:
- One in Nzara (a town in South Sudan) and the other in Yambuku (Democratic Republic of the Congo), a village near the Ebola River from which the disease takes its name.
- The largest outbreak to date was the epidemic in West Africa, which occurred from December 2013 to January 2016, with 28,646 cases and 11,323 deaths.
- In July 2019, the World Health Organization declared the Congo Ebola outbreak a world health emergency.
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How is it transmitted?
- The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission.
- Fruit bats are believed to be the normal carrier in nature, able to spread the virus without being affected by it.
- The virus spreads through direct contact with body fluids, such as blood from infected humans or other animals.
- Spread may also occur from contact with items recently contaminated with bodily fluids.
What is the Fatality Rate?
- The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.
How it can be prevented?
- Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service and social mobilisation.
What is said about its treatment?
- Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development.
Vaccines for Ebola Virus Disease
- An experimental Ebola vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV proved highly protective against EVD in a major trial in Guinea in 2015.
- The rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine is being used in the ongoing 2018-2019 Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should have access to the vaccine under the same conditions as for the general population.
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