World Health Organization chief says Ebola outbreak in Congo is stabilising

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World Health Organization chief says Ebola outbreak in Congo is stabilising

Kinshasa, Jun 7 (Prensa Latina) The Ministry of Health announced today that it held an awareness day with 50 traditional doctors (healers) seeking support in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

His optimism was echoed by Peter Salama, MD, the WHO's deputy director-general of emergency response.

"There's been very strong progress in the outbreak response, particularly in relation to two of the initial three sites: Mbandaka and Bikoro", he said.

A new case was discovered in the health zone known as Iboko - symptoms started June 2 - bringing the overall tally to 62 confirmed or suspected cases and 27 deaths.

Among the reported cases, 38 have been confirmed by laboratories so far.

Salama warned, however, that even one undetected patient, who goes on to infect others could lead to a new spike of Ebola, a fever disease that can lead to bleeding and is highly lethal.

Phase one of the disease response was about protecting the urban centres and towns and that had gone well, Salama said, but phase two, tackling the remote forested areas, was an enormous logistical effort that would go on for weeks.

The Ebola outbreak coincides with political tension in Congo over preparations for long-postponed December elections as well as violence by armed groups in several provinces. "We've reached the majority of contacts - more than 98% - with vaccination. and we believe these contacts are now protected against Ebola", he said.

The new case is in the remote Iboko health zone in Congo's northwest.

On the front lines of the outbreak, health officials use a tool called contact tracing to break the chain of transmission of the Ebola virus. It's the identification and follow-up of all people who may have come into contact with a person infected with the infectious disease.

But the Congolese health ministry said on Wednesday that "no experimental treatment has yet been given to hospitalised patients".

World Health Organization however, said in the context of an outbreak characterized by high mortality, it can be ethically appropriate to offer individual patients investigational interventions on an emergency basis outside clinical trials. "And we've learned the hard way in the past never to underestimate Ebola".

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