WHO preparing for worst-case Ebola scenario

The World Health Organization is preparing for the "worst case scenario" as it continues to respond to the Ebola outb...

Posted: May 11, 2018 4:56 PM
Updated: May 11, 2018 4:56 PM

The World Health Organization is preparing for the "worst case scenario" as it continues to respond to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Peter Salama, deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response at the WHO, said in Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday that it's "going to be tough and it's going to be costly to stamp out this outbreak."

It's "going to be tough and it's going to be costly to stamp out this outbreak," WHO official says

32 people are suspected to have been infected with Ebola in the new outbreak; 18 have died

As of Wednesday, 32 people are suspected to have been infected with Ebola viral disease, including three health care workers. Eighteen of those have died, including one of the health care workers.

Of the suspected cases, two have been confirmed as Ebola using laboratory tests, and 10 samples are awaiting results.

"The number of suspected, probable and confirmed cases is significant, so we are very concerned, and we are planning for all scenarios, including the worst-case scenario," Salama said.

Ebola virus disease, which most commonly affects people and nonhuman primates such as monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees, is caused by one of five Ebola viruses. On average, about 50% of people who become ill with Ebola die.

The disease is endemic to the Democratic Republic of Congo, and this is the nation's ninth outbreak since the discovery of the virus in the country in 1976.

The latest outbreak is occurring in the Bikoro health zone, 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) from Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province.

Bikoro health zone has a population of about 163,000, with three hospitals and 19 health centers, most with limited functionality, according to WHO.

Given the remote location of the outbreak, Salama said, response efforts will be extremely challenging. "It is a dire scene in terms of infrastructure," he said.

"To give you a sense, we are talking about an area that is 280 kilometers even from the provincial capital of Equateur," he said.

The WHO is working with authorities in Congo and is in discussions with the World Food Programme to arrange airlifting supplies to the affected areas. UNICEF is also making doctors available as well as sanitation and hygiene specialists to help contain the outbreak.

The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission, either through direct contact with bodily fluids such as blood or secretions or contact with materials that are contaminated with these liquids.

Personal protective equipment has been sent to the affected region, and the WHO is planning to have mobile laboratories running by the weekend, after receiving approval from the country's Ministry of Health.

Initial control efforts are focusing on tools such as surveillance and monitoring, safe burials and case management.

Vaccines along with doctors and epidemiologists are on standby in case they are needed, according to the UN.

If they are needed, "WHO is in discussions with the government and, if pertinent, will seek approval from the national regulatory authority and the Ethics Review committee to use vaccines against Ebola as part of the response," spokesman Tarik Jasarevik said.

The current vaccine against Ebola is experimental and not a licensed product. Salama pointed out that its use also comes with many challenges, as the vaccine needs to be stored long-term at temperatures between minus 60 to minus 80 degrees Celsius (minus 76 to minus 112 Fahrenheit).

"This is not a simple logistical effort; it's not like doing a polio campaign with oral polio vaccines, where we get it immediately out to the field. This is a highly complex sophisticated operation in one of the most difficult terrains on Earth," Salama said.

Nine neighboring countries are on high alert, Salama said, but the WHO says the current risk of disease spreading to them is low.

West Africa experienced the largest recorded outbreak of Ebola over a two-year period beginning in March 2014; a total of 28,616 confirmed, probable and suspected cases were reported in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 11,310 deaths, according to the WHO.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 735999

Reported Deaths: 13486
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1007151752
Lake54249977
Allen40946680
St. Joseph36335553
Hamilton35829408
Elkhart28844443
Tippecanoe22475219
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Porter18946311
Johnson18067381
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Delaware10755187
Howard10001218
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Hancock8373142
Bartholomew8098156
Warrick7799155
Floyd7690178
Grant7098174
Wayne7072199
Boone6745101
Morgan6611140
Dubois6166117
Marshall6111112
Cass5876105
Dearborn583178
Henry5785105
Noble565984
Jackson503773
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Lawrence4602120
Gibson437192
Harrison436672
DeKalb430585
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Montgomery425889
Whitley398739
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Ohio57111
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Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1091623

Reported Deaths: 19528
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1268061406
Cuyahoga1132982134
Hamilton804211211
Montgomery518231015
Summit47606955
Lucas42618792
Butler38548585
Stark32661909
Lorain25199486
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Mahoning21795588
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Clermont19880240
Delaware18608133
Licking16488212
Fairfield16327200
Trumbull16196468
Medina15379266
Greene15143244
Clark14096299
Wood13168189
Portage12966206
Allen11740232
Richland11433199
Miami10713220
Wayne8923214
Columbiana8881229
Muskingum8831133
Pickaway8596121
Marion8561136
Tuscarawas8509245
Erie7958155
Hancock6944128
Ashtabula6904172
Ross6876156
Geauga6741148
Scioto6444102
Belmont5978168
Union575448
Lawrence5590102
Jefferson5583151
Huron5462120
Sandusky5380122
Darke5374126
Seneca5311122
Washington5228109
Athens520858
Auglaize494986
Mercer481585
Shelby470293
Knox4513110
Madison439363
Putnam4301101
Ashland426590
Fulton426469
Defiance424697
Crawford3993107
Brown397557
Logan383276
Preble381398
Clinton374163
Ottawa369081
Highland356862
Williams343475
Champaign335358
Guernsey317653
Jackson314152
Perry295950
Morrow287239
Fayette283550
Hardin271964
Henry270366
Coshocton266157
Holmes2625101
Van Wert244263
Adams240053
Pike238634
Gallia236749
Wyandot232155
Hocking216462
Carroll192448
Paulding174340
Meigs145540
Noble134137
Monroe132542
Harrison109637
Morgan108823
Vinton84915
Unassigned02
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