Ebola Outbreak Current Affairs
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.
World Health Organization (WHO), a UN health agency has declared Guinea Ebola-free after no new cases were reported. Now the country enters into 90-day period of heightened surveillance of WHO.
In Guinea, the deadly disease had killed more than 2,500 people and had completely shattered country’s economy and country’s health and education sectors.
Criteria for declaring a nation Ebola-free
WHO can declare a country Ebola free after no new cases are reported from human-to-human transmission over two incubation periods of virus i.e. 21 days. Earlier, WHO had declared Liberia Ebola-free in September 2015 and was followed by Sierra Leone in November 2015.
Guinea was birthplace of deadliest Ebola outbreak in history and was initially centred on country’s remote south-eastern region of Nzerekore in 2013. Later it had spread to its neighbouring countries Liberia and Sierra Leone and also seven other countries. After it began in 2013 it has killed more than 11,300 people in these three worst hit western African nations. Liberia with 4809 deaths was worst hit among these three western African nations in this deadly outbreak.