Despite a Successful Vaccine, Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo Continues

The second-largest Ebola outbreak in recorded history continues in Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, the part of the country where the outbreak is taking place is suffering from civil unrest to the point that aid organizations like Doctors Without Borders have suspended activities. This article from the New York Times describes the situation:

“Efforts to combat the epidemic have been hobbled by attacks on treatment centers and health workers; deep suspicion of the national government, which is managing the eradication efforts; and growing mistrust of the international medical experts who have struggled to steer patients into the treatment centers, according to interviews with dozens of family members, politicians, doctors and health workers in recent weeks.

When a doctor was killed, and treatment centers attacked by gunmen or set on fire, front-line health workers suspended their work, giving the virus time to spread. Some medical and aid groups have decided to pull some of their personnel from the very areas where Ebola has hit hardest.

So far nearly 1,150 people have died in the outbreak, according to the World Health Organization. But that is a significant undercount, aid groups said in interviews. Health workers have been turned away regularly from homes where someone has died, leaving them unable to test for Ebola.”

This, despite a successful Ebola vaccine being used in the area. Because of the violence and unrest, the World Health Organization has adjusted its vaccination strategy. However, without an end to the violence, the outbreak is only likely to spread. This is troubling since the area where the outbreak is happening is near the border with Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan.

Screenshot 2019-05-19 13.43.53
Location of Beni, DRC, where the outbreak is centered.

Read more about the history of Ebola and the attempts to develop a vaccine against it by clicking here.

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Author: René F. Najera, DrPH

I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, an online project by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. All opinions expressed on these blog posts are not necessarily those of the College or any of my employers. Check out my professional profile on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/renenajera Feel free to follow me on Twitter: @EpiRen

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