An Ebola outbreak that has killed several people in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) appears to be slowing down, but health workers say there is a need for continued vigilance in order to contain the virus.
"Their last confirmed case was admitted in the MSF [Médecins Sans Frontières]/Ministry of Health Ebola ward on October 10, after two weeks with no confirmed cases," Olimpia de la Rosa, MSF medical emergency coordinator, told IRIN in an email.
"The decrease in the number of admissions in our facility makes us think that we are on the way to contain the outbreak, but containment efforts must continue until no cases are confirmed for at least 21 days."
According to the UN World Health Organization's (WHO) 8 October update, the disease had claimed 24 lives by 7 October, while 31 cases had been confirmed and 18 were suspected. The outbreak, first reported on 17 August, is in Isiro and Viadana health zones in the country's north-eastern Orientale Province.
The Ministry of Health is working with a task force that includes, among others, MSF, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO. Its activities involve surveillance, health worker training, community education and the implementation of biosafety measures. MSF has also set up a centre for supportive treatment of Ebola patients.
Ebola, which causes fever and bleeding from orifices, can cause death within days. There is no cure or vaccine for it, so efforts are concentrated on stopping its spread.
The current strain in DRC has been identified as Ebola-Bundibugyo - named for a Ugandan district that borders the DRC. The fatality rate rate for this strain is estimated at about 40 percent.