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US News Ebola in DR Congo, the never ending epidemic

23:10  03 june  2020
23:10  03 june  2020 Source:   france24.com

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Ebola en RD Congo, l'épidémie qui n'en finit pas © france 24 Ebola in DR Congo, the never ending epidemic

The Democratic Republic of Congo officially declared on Monday June 1st an eleventh epidemic of Ebola hemorrhagic fever on its soil, with the resurgence of an outbreak in the northwest of the country. This epidemic comes on top of the tenth still underway in the East, which has already left more than 2,280 dead. For several years, the DRC has been regularly struck by the resurgence of the Ebola virus on its territory. How to explain it, what are the factors? Interview with Yap Boum II, epidemiologist and director of Epicenter Africa.

The Ebola virus has not said its last word in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Health officials have declared a new epidemic in the northwest of the country after the discovery of several cases, including deaths, in Equateur province. This region was already affected by the virus between May and July 2018. It is the eleventh Ebola epidemic in the DRC since the discovery of the virus in this country (then called Zaire) in 1976. It comes on top of the tenth still ongoing in the east of the country which has already killed more than 2,280 people since its appearance in August 2018. In April 2020, the Congolese authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) were preparing to declare the end of the epidemic in the DRC, before the disease resurfaces in the city of Beni.

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For several years, the DRC has been regularly struck by the resurgence of the Ebola virus on its territory. A virus that originates in animals, in a country that hosts most of the equatorial rain forest in Africa. "The main factor is the reservoir. The reservoir that are wild animals, explains Professor Yap Boum II , epidemiologist and director of Epicenter Africa . We think of bats, we think of chimpanzees are present in the forest. And the populations that we called the pygmies that live in these forests in contact with these reservoirs. The increasingly important contact means that from time to time, there is a resurgence of this virus and these contamination. "

Seasonality and socio-economic factors

Other factors such as seasonality may explain the recurrence of this disease in the DRC. "There may also be a socio-economic aspect which causes populations to be pushed back to their limits, due to difficulties, civil wars, inter-population or inter-tribal wars, which can push certain populations to be more in contact with these reservoirs. ", continues the professor.

Between humans, the virus is transmitted quickly by direct contact with blood or body fluids. Ebola has a high average case fatality rate, around 50%. To combat the spread of the virus in the DRC, a vaccine is particularly used. It is called rVSV-ZEBOV and was proven during the Ebola epidemic in Guinea in 2015. At the same time, treatment is also available to treat patients.

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