Ebola outbreak in Congo
The World Health Organization (WHO), non-governmental aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have sent experts to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) to assist local health authorities with a recent outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Kasai Occidental province of DRC. The illness had been unidentified until laboratory test results confirmed the presence of the virus.
WHO is working closely with officials from the DRC Ministry of Health and MSF to improve local facilities in order to better contain the virus. A mobile field laboratory is to be established in order to provide rapid sample analysis and, subsequently, diagnosis of patients. There are concurrent outbreaks of other diseases, such as dysentery (Shigellosis), that have been complicating diagnoses and need to be identified as well.
Ebola haemorrhagic fever generates mortality rates in the range of 50 to 90 percent, typically. There is currently no vaccine or effective treatment for Ebola. WHO describes the symptoms of Ebola as being “characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is often followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings show low counts of white blood cells and platelets as well as elevated liver enzymes.”