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CDC prepares to join Ebola fight in Congo

CDC prepares to join Ebola fight in Congo

Alarm grows as Ebola is confirmed in major Congo urban center and officials plan emergency vaccination program with experimental vaccine.

Early last week, I wrote that there was a serious outbreak of the hemorrhagic virus Ebola reoccurring in the African nation of Congo.

Officials are now alarmed as Ebola has now been reported in one of Congo’s few urban centers.

Congo has confirmed a case of Ebola in Mbandaka, a city of 1.2 million, marking the first urban case in the latest outbreak, which is now the most serious since the epidemic that raged across West Africa between 2014 and 2016.

Ebola is much harder to contain in urban areas, so this development compounds the risk of contagion. The World Health Organization’s lead response official called the new confirmed case “a game changer.”

“This is a major development in the outbreak,” said Peter Salama, the WHO’s deputy director general of emergency preparedness and response. “We have urban Ebola, which is a very different animal from rural Ebola. The potential for an explosive increase in cases is now there.

In fact, three cases have been reported in that city. A major vaccination campaign with a new vaccine against Ebola is slated to begin next week.

The World Health Organization on Friday decided not to declare the outbreak a global health emergency, but it called the risk of spread within Congo “very high” and warned nine neighboring countries that the risk to them was high. WHO said there should be no international travel or trade restrictions.

The outbreak is a test of a new experimental Ebola vaccine that proved effective in the West Africa outbreak a few years ago. Vaccinations are expected to start early in the week, with more than 4,000 doses already in Congo and more on the way.

Currently the number of potential cases of Ebola to be identified is 44, and the death toll now stands at 23. The level of concern among public health professionals is now such that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) is preparing to deploy staffers to several cities and towns in the region.

The CDC maintains an office in Kinshasa, the capital of Congo, about 350 miles from the epicenter of the outbreak. The dozen or so staffers who work in that office are likely to deploy to the hot zone once they receive a formal invite from Congo’s health ministry.

In an interview, Pierre Rollin, one of CDC’s top Ebola experts, said the World Health Organization (WHO) is leading the response and coordinating among both governmental and nongovernmental organizations responding to the ongoing outbreak.

“We’re offering them a roster of 12 or 15 people that will be able to go there,” Rollin said. “They’re ready to go as soon as they’ve got an invitation. The invitation is from the Ministry of Health through the WHO.”

Hopefully, this outbreak will be contained before further lives are lost.


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It’s gratifying that there is a vaccine. It’s also good that WHO and the CDC are “on the case.”

Because there are only thousands of doses currently available for at risk populations (reaching into the millions) is not good news.

We can only hope that containment efforts are effective.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to bear. | May 19, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    It is interesting that all this stuff happens in shit hole countries.

    Any money we expend on Ebola should be deducted from any other aid the get.

I heard the reporting on NPR, where the CDC performed admirably during the last outbreak, and the death rate for this fever is 30-60%.

Last time, the CDC did not wake up until the people in the US with experience from the HIV epidemic raised pluperfect hell over the CDC’s nonchalant attitude.

And the true death rate is estimated to be 90%, The death rate “might” be lowered, assuming good care and prevention. In other words, the lowered death rate reported by NPR is speculative.

At this point, we do not know how well the vaccines are going to work. We do know the virus is virulent and contagious enough that it killed a lot of medical staff during the last epidemic.

The basics of the current outbreak remain the same as the prior epidemic: the best tool for dealing with the disease is containment. That is, quarantine of those who are ill, and anyone who has had the misfortune of coming in contact with them.

@ Valerie

Congo is not a US State, territory, possession or ally. They have been dealing with diseases similar to a bola for hundreds of years, and do you actually understand the principles of quarantine and containment. Neocolonialism on our part is uncalled for. Africa also has a very good tropical virus and vaccine lab, which was established by the Rockefellers 100 years ago. They are quite capable of managing this entire thing by themselves.

Ebola has a natural reservoir in the African forest, and cannot be eradicated. The best we can do is to be short not to bring it here, where it could eventually find an animal host and become endemic as well. Since the infection continues for at least six months after person contracts out, it is foolish for us to send medical personnel over there. They will come back with low-grade infection’s, a phenomenal which was discovered only recently.

* d/mn autocorrect!!

I meant “they do understand the principles of quarantine…”
Not “you do understand”. The comment was not directed in any personal way”

My feelings for the person who put auto correct and mangle into the phone operating system are getting to be rather personal

I feel the same way about whoever screwed up duct tape. It was working perfectly fine untill they messed with it.

I don’t trust the competence of the CDC. During the US outbreak the went on the news and insisted Ebols was not airborne – technically correct because the droplets are too large to meet the scientific definition.

But what civilians asking the airborne question meant was “can I catch it from the guy sneezing next to me on the bus?”

The answer is yes. And the CDC knew that’s what people meant. But the CDC misled the public about the communicability risk because they were more concerned about mass panic.

clayusmcret | May 20, 2018 at 9:15 am

As long as they leave it in Congo instead of bringing it home like obama did.