Ebola Current Affairs

WHO declares end of Ebola outbreak in Congo

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the end of the most recent outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The announcement comes 42 days (two 21-day incubation cycles of the virus) after the last confirmed Ebola patient in the affected Bas-Uélé province of DRC tested negative for the disease for the second time.

It was DRC’s eighth outbreak of EVD since the discovery of the virus in the country in 1976. It killed four of the eight people infected in the central African country.

The recent outbreak in DRC is not connected to the 2014 deadly Ebola outbreak that had worst hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and killed more than 11,300 dead, highest ever since its discovery of virus. This outbreak was declared finished in 2016.

About Ebola virus disease (EVD)

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a viral hemorrhagic fever of humans and other primates caused by ebola viruses. It was first identified in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in a village near the Ebola River, from which it takes its name.

 Transmission: The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. Fruit bats are natural host of this virus. It spreads through contact with body fluids of inflected persons such as blood, urine and saliva. It also spreads through sexual transmission.

Symptoms: High fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage. The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. However, in past outbreaks case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90%.

Treatment: There is as yet no proven treatment available for EVD. However, a range of potential treatments including immune therapies, blood products and drug therapies are currently being evaluated. An experimental Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV is proved to highly protective against the deadly virus in a major trial in Guinea conducted in 2015.

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New Ebola vaccine may be up to 100% effective: WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed confidence that a prototype vaccine for Ebola called rVSV-ZEBOV may be 100% effective in protecting against the deadly virus.

The vaccine was initially developed in Canada by public health authorities before being taken over by pharmaceutical giant Merck.

Key Facts
  • Earlier in a major experimental human clinical trial of this vaccine conducted on nearly 6,000 people in Guinea in 2015 was found to successfully.
  • It was observed that no one from the 6,000 people contracted again to the lethal disease. The test results of the trial were released in The Lancet magazine.
  • This new vaccine has not yet been approved by any regulatory authority. But it is said that the vaccine could become available in 2018 under a fast-track approval process.
  • However, this new vaccine has some flaws as it appears to work against only one of the two most common strains of the Ebola virus.
  • Thus, it may not give long-lasting protection and some of patients who were given this vaccine have reported side effects like joint pain and headaches.

About Ebola virus

Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. It was first identified in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo in a village near the Ebola River, from which it takes its name. It is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. Fruit bats are natural host of this virus. It spreads through contact with body fluids of inflected persons such as blood, urine and saliva. Symptoms faced by people who have contracted the Ebola virus include high fever, bleeding and central nervous system damage. In 2014, Ebola virus had erupted periodically mainly across west and east Africa mainly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. It was the deadly outbreak of the virus in the history that had killed 11,000 people.

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