DRC: Ebola outbreak enters ‘new phase’ after urban case confirmed
‘Game changer’ as Ebola outbreak hits urban centre in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
by David Child
20 hours ago
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has entered a “new phase” after a case was confirmed in a city of 1.2 million people amid fears infections could rapidly spread.
A victim of the deadly virus was identified in the northwestern city of Mbandaka, 150km from the rural area where the outbreak was first detected earlier this month, DRC’s Health Minister Oly Ilunga said on Thursday.
“This is a significant development because it’s harder to control an outbreak in an urban setting because there are many more prospects for contact than in a rural area,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told Al Jazeera.
An infected person is estimated to have between 100-150 “contacts” with other people per day, a figure that may be higher in densely populated areas, Jasarevic added.
The WHO is sending 7,540 experimental vaccines to DRC, 4,300 of which have already arrived in the capital, Kinshasa, as part of a coordinated response to the outbreak.
Yet Another Watch This Space…
An experimental vaccine, that must be kept frozen at -40 C or so in a land with marginal electricity. That’s what everyone is hoping will prevent this literally “Going Viral” and wiping out a city of 1/3 Million.
For the first time, we are going to find out what happens when Ebola is in a major urban area.
For the first time, we are going to find out IF the vaccine works at all.
Then, we’re going to see how to chose who of that 1/3 million are the lucky 7540 to get the vaccine. I presume mostly it will be given to medical staff, the immediate contact area of known cases, and of course “connected” political animals.
So the race is on. 23+ deaths so far. 21 being held in quarantine. So about 2300 “contacts” per day from those known infected for the, what, about a week that it’s contagious and not obvious? Call it about 16,000 potential exposures. So far. Not including the quarantined folks and those not yet identified. One person IN the city, so even if only for 2 days, that’s another 200 to 300 “exposed” around them. Minimum.
Now add that the virus can and does survive in other animals. WHEN it makes the jump to the city rat population, or domestic dogs, then a whole new problem will manifest.
I really hope these folks succeed in shutting this down before it becomes a global disaster. But at this point, as long as air travel to the area is running, every city on the planet can be the next hot spot. The virus is known to be harbored, to survive, in various body fluids even in those who have “recovered”. The vitreous humor of the eye, the synovial fluid of the joints. It can be an additional 6 months for that to clear (and we are not sure it always does…)
So many chances for horrific failure, so little chance for success. But God Speed to those on the front line of this. One hopes the vaccine works. One hopes the “isolated case” in the city stays isolated. One hopes the response is fast enough to curtail this before the exponential runaway is too large. “But hope is not a strategy. -E.M.Smith”