New Ebola outbreak may open door to finding drugs that work

New Ebola outbreak may open door to finding drugs that work

New Ebola outbreak may open door to finding drugs that work

Congo's health ministry says another Ebola case has been confirmed as the pace of new cases slows one month after the outbreak was officially declared.

His optimism was echoed by Peter Salama, MD, the WHO's deputy director-general of emergency response.

Archbishop Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, co-adjutor archbishop of Kinshasa who previously served in the Diocese of Mbandaka-Bikoro, where the outbreak occurred, chose to suspend administering sacraments to protect churchgoers from contracting the disease.

"There's been very strong progress in the outbreak response, particularly in relation to two of three sites", Salama said. The newest confirmed case is in rural Iboko and is linked to a probable Ebola patient who died on 20 May, the ministry said.

The current outbreak - the ninth to hit the DRC since Ebola was identified in 1976 - involves the same strain of the virus that struck the West African states of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2013-15, killing more than 11,300 people.

Among the reported cases, 38 have been confirmed by laboratories so far.

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The disease, which is transmitted by direct contact with the blood and body fluids of infected people or animals, causes severe bleeding and can have a mortality rate of 90%.

Cases have occurred in the city of Mbandaka, a transport hub on the Congo River - a scenario that typically makes an outbreak of the infectious disease far more hard to contain.

He said that the first phase - protecting urban centres and towns - "has gone well, and we can be cautiously optimistic".

He warned, however, that experts are not in a position to document all chains of transmission of the virus, so "there may still yet be unknown chains out there and there may still be surprises in this outbreak".

The Ebola outbreak coincides with political tension in Congo over preparations for long-postponed December elections as well as violence by armed groups in several provinces.

The Catholic Church in Congo said emergency measures will remain indefinitely in place in parishes at risk of Ebola, and urged effective action against the disease by the government of President Joseph Kabila. Some of these treatments, when given as late as day five of symptoms, led to high protection in monkeys, he said, adding that the choice of product for each patient will be decided by clinicians.

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