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: 661673

Reported Deaths: 12573
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion906391639
Lake48389876
Allen35806635
Hamilton32056396
St. Joseph29947512
Elkhart25376414
Vanderburgh21245378
Tippecanoe20000201
Johnson16336359
Porter15957270
Hendricks15813300
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Monroe10328161
Delaware9836179
LaPorte9761196
Howard9055197
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Bartholomew7448147
Warrick7412150
Hancock7404131
Floyd7200169
Wayne6631191
Grant6424157
Morgan6084125
Boone608288
Dubois5903111
Dearborn547067
Cass544399
Marshall5423104
Henry542093
Noble509078
Jackson464566
Shelby460290
Lawrence4180112
Gibson401281
Harrison399663
Clinton395453
Montgomery386783
DeKalb385178
Knox357285
Miami357263
Whitley349136
Huntington343976
Steuben338155
Wabash331176
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Starke188051
Owen182153
Fulton178237
Jay177728
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Orange171250
Rush164722
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Franklin159435
Tipton146341
Parke139216
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Blackford120627
Pulaski106444
Newton96531
Brown94939
Benton91913
Crawford90613
Martin80114
Warren75814
Switzerland7537
Union67110
Ohio53311
Unassigned0431

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 967422

Reported Deaths: 17297
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1118511208
Cuyahoga954841746
Hamilton73202970
Montgomery47226889
Summit40110957
Butler35435471
Lucas35217765
Stark29301840
Warren22361276
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Mahoning19402543
Lake18358305
Clermont18327211
Delaware16415135
Licking14939200
Fairfield14491159
Trumbull14283462
Greene13548213
Medina13347219
Clark12223336
Wood11492193
Portage10982160
Allen10762235
Richland10250206
Miami10006190
Muskingum8153130
Columbiana8103182
Pickaway8033101
Tuscarawas8016236
Marion7979137
Wayne7848219
Erie6858184
Ross6123136
Geauga6051128
Hancock5979112
Ashtabula5937145
Scioto5920104
Lawrence523174
Union511252
Darke5025124
Belmont490989
Huron4781117
Jefferson4781108
Sandusky475996
Seneca4652103
Athens463133
Washington460587
Mercer4581101
Auglaize455099
Shelby440769
Knox401186
Putnam3984101
Madison391447
Ashland378495
Fulton377964
Defiance3711102
Brown369042
Crawford356696
Logan353259
Preble352571
Clinton339964
Highland327356
Ottawa322767
Williams301878
Jackson289256
Champaign285846
Guernsey285834
Fayette267844
Perry267543
Morrow259125
Henry245565
Hardin243957
Holmes2430104
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Van Wert228849
Gallia221346
Adams215532
Pike214928
Wyandot209153
Hocking193549
Carroll180328
Paulding159723
Meigs134837
Noble128542
Monroe116136
Morgan100534
Harrison100432
Vinton76615
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