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Huge Ebola Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
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The death toll in history’s second-largest, second-deadliest Ebola outbreak is rising – over the past five months, it’s reached over 600 people in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The virus, which causes fever and other symptoms, has an average fatality rate of about 61 percent. However, some strains of the virus are more deadly – and some areas have less access to medical care – which means it can range from 25 to 90 percent in any outbreak.
The world’s worst Ebola outbreak, which occurred between 2014 and 2016 in multiple African nations, infected more than 28,000 people and killed 11,325 of them.
This is the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s tenth outbreak since 1976, when the virus was first identified.
Now, the deadly virus has spread to Butembo – a city with a population of almost a million. Although nearly 60,000 people across the republic have been vaccinated in the outbreak zone, people are still becoming infected. The country’s health ministry expects it to continue spreading for several more months.
To make matters worse, health workers who are trying to contain the virus have to work around attacks from armed groups working for mineral extractors in the country. To date, 42 health workers have been infected and three have died.
The Ebola virus is actually a combination of viruses, and together, they cause a deadly hemorrhagic fever. (A hemorrhagic fever causes bleeding inside and outside the body.) It incubates for 8 to 21 days, and symptoms include fever, muscle weakness, sore throat and headaches. Eventually, it impairs kidney and liver function. There’s no cure for Ebola, but Merck developed the vaccine for it – and the vaccine has proved effective in the past.
Ebola is transmitted through blood and bodily fluids. It’s not airborne, so nobody can catch it by breathing the same air as someone who’s infected.
Researchers believe that a certain species of bats are natural carriers, and that the initial transmission in an outbreak results from a wild animal infecting a human.
What Do You Think?
Have you been keeping tabs on the Ebola outbreak? Do you remember the last Ebola outbreak, when the first case in the U.S. was discovered in Dallas? Are you concerned that it’ll make its way here again? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter.