JOHANNESBURG – The World Health Organization has decided that the latest outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Congo is still not a global health emergency, causing frustrations among some health experts.
With several rebel groups active in the region, cautious communities sometimes resist health workers and a closely-traveled border, the risk of regional spread is considered "very high," says WHO. The outbreak region borders on Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.
An outbreak look with 1,220 confirmed and likely cases, including 772 deaths, since August 1 was declared. It has become the second most deadly in the story, behind the African side of 2014-16 that killed more than 11,300 people.
WHAT IS EBOLA?
Ebola is a virus that can spread rapidly and can be fatal in 90% of cases. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and sometimes internal and external bleeding. Symptoms may occur between 2 and 21 days after the infection, according to WHO.
The virus is spread more frequently by close contact with the body fluids of people who have symptoms and with objects such as contaminated sheets. Health workers often run the risk of becoming infected and burial practices that require close contact with Ebola victims may spread the disease.
Dozens of people in this outbreak have received one of several experimental Ebola treatments, but their effect has not yet been fully studied. Although there is no licensed Ebola treatment, receiving early care, such as rehydration and treatment of other symptoms, helps to improve the chances of survival.
It has been shown that a new Ebola virus vaccine is effective. The health ministry of the Congo declared Friday that more than 98,000 people were vaccinated.
WHY IS AN EXHIBITION?
Health workers have described this first Ebola outbreak that occurs essentially in a war zone. Several rebel groups are active in northeastern Congo, killing hundreds of people in recent years. The attacks have caused a traumatized population that can take care of the foreigners.
Some residents have been on the verge because health workers are accompanied by armed guards of the peacekeeping mission of the UN or the security forces of the Congo. Many accuse the government of not protecting them from attacks.
This is the first time that an Ebola outbreak occurs in this part of the Congo and health workers have fought against incorrect information, as they explain the importance of safe burial and other preventative measures.
According to a study published last month in The Lancet Infectious Diseases newspaper, one out of four interviewed in Congo's east one month after the outbreak began, Ebola was not real.
Some residents have rejected vaccines against the Ebola virus and have escaped or attacked health teams. Doctors without borders were forced to close two of their Ebola clinics earlier this year after attacking clinics.
This has affected contention efforts, especially the careful work of locating the contacts of infected people. Many new cases are still not related to the known, a signal of the challenges that remain in a dense and very mobile population.
WHEN WILL THE READ OUT?
It's hard to say. Some health experts predicted a few months ago that the outbreak would end in a period of six months. As complications appear, the term is receding.
"Given the average number of cases that we see now, this will not happen for at least six months or more," said Tariq Riebl with the International Rescue Committee.
Robert Steffen, chairman of the WHO expert commission who unanimously decided that the outbreak is still not a global emergency, said experts were "moderately optimistic" that the outbreak is could contain in a "foreseeable time".