The outbreak of a viral disease called Ebola, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), has been described as the worst on record in the country. It is also the second-largest, which has killed over 1,705 people as of July. The outbreak is affecting North Kivu and Ituri provinces, although it was declared a year ago, as at this recent outbreak, the epidemic has not been brought under control. With this, the World Health Organization (WHO) on July 17, declared the Ebola outbreak in DRC to be a public health emergency of international concern, because this is the tenth Ebola outbreak in DRC within 40 years. DRC was formerly called Ebola River, and that was where the Virus Ebola was first described in 1976. Since then, the virus has moved to other parts of Africa, especially West Africa, infecting people periodically.
There is a hypothesis that tries to give reasons to the reoccurrence of the Ebola virus in DRC so, scientists ascertain that it is because of the prevalence of fruit bats that live there since it contains millions of acres of dense forest where wildlife species call home. Living is an environment with a large population of fruits and bats can increase the risk of coming in contact with infected animals. Still, scientists are not sure if this is the reason DRC is faced with more Ebola outbreaks. Measures have been taken to put this virus under check and toward providing appropriate medications such as vaccines. However, Some affected African countries were able to put its spread under control until it was no more or avoided in their region through measures such as;
1. Refurbishing and equipping an Ebola treatment unit at their central hospital.
2. Providing a water and sanitation program with hygiene messages on Ebola prevention.
3. Setting up facilities to support the national preparedness plan.
It is important to note that there is no licensed vaccines to cure Ebola for now. Still, doctors can manage it using fluids and electrolytes, and it can be treated with an experimental serum that destroys infected cells, researchers are working on finding a cure. However, in 2016, a study found the VSV-EBOV developed by Merck to be the first proven vaccine with 95-100% efficiency against the Ebola virus although the trial will continue to asses the vaccine on how effective it is to create herd immunity (also called herd effect, community immunity, population immunity, or social immunity) to the infection of the virus especially to those who are not immune.
Amidst the raging civil war in parts of Congo, Doctors and helpers are fighting the Viral disease, which is a medical emergency and a more complicated outbreak than the first one, which occurred in West Africa in 2013. Although the current outbreak has been less dramatic because fewer deaths have been reported, unlike the first outbreak. The reason for fewer victims is because vaccinations are available, and Merck would be able to produce more doses of vaccines in the future since he has been licensed. The World Health Organisation (WHO) monitors and register how much vaccines are delivered to doctors and where it is used in Congo, it has been reported that more than 20,000 people have been vaccinated.
The New Ebola Vaccine In Congo
Physicians would commence the use of a new vaccine called Ervebo from Johnson & Johnson in November. This is a little different from Merck’s VSV-EBOV in that it is suitable for broad-base prophylaxis. http://www.medscape.com “Ervebo is a genetically engineered, replication-competent, attenuated live vaccine. Data from clinical trials and compassionate use programs have shown that a single dose of Ervebo protects against Ebola virus disease”.
Addo hopes the new Ebola vaccine will help overcome the epidemic
“The vaccines are very different in strategy,” says Dr. Marylyn Addo. “The vaccine that is currently being used takes effect after only one shot — very quickly. The new vaccine, however, consists of two components that need to be administered at eight-week intervals.” http://www.dw.com
Currently, the battle to stop the outbreak is yielding results as there are signs of progress and the World Health Organization that the number of new infections is reducing. In the first week of October, only 14 people were confirmed infected, making it the lowest number in a year, unlike in the past months when the Ebola epidemic was at its peak before vaccines were made available.