After One Year, Ebola Outbreak Worsening in DRC

Health workers in Congo carry the coffins of Ebola victims to a burial site. (Photo credit: John Wessels/AFP/Getty Images/npr.org)

Today is the one-year anniversary of the first confirmed cases of Ebola in the latest outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Since 2018, Ebola cases in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo has increased from four to 2,700 with more than 1,800 deaths, making it the second largest outbreak in West Africa. In March and April, the number of cases increased more quickly compared to the prior seven months of the outbreak. About eighty new cases are reported each week. Response to the outbreak is complicated by violence and political upheaval in the region.

Health officials are very concerned that Ebola cases and deaths will continue to increase. To address this crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) is asking for more money from international donors. WHO has budgeted $350 million for 2019 but has only received $50 million dollars so far. 

There is some good news, however. This is the first time that a vaccine has been widely used. More than 170,000 people have received a vaccine from Merck and a second vaccine from Johnson and Johnson may be utilized. There are also a couple experimental treatments available.

Despite the good news, health officials are still concerned that the outbreak will continue due to the limited amount of vaccines and the increase in cases over the last few weeks.

Read more from NPR here.

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