DR Congo battles Ebola outbreak

Emergency medical supplies arrive after at least five people die due to infection.

    About 450 people have been killed by Ebola since the first outbreaks were reported in 1976 [File: EPA]

    He also confirmed that the Shigella strand of infectious dysentery was present in some samples from the region and cautioned that it could be responsible for some of the deaths.

    Fortunat Ntumba Tshitoka, a local official, told the AFP news agency that a "systematic" quarantining of the whole region had been ruled out, saying "only the ill are isolated and the personnel caring for them have submitted to strict hygiene regulations".
      
    "Only schools in the zones affected by the virus have been closed," he added.

    Medical aid convoy

    Victor Makwenge Kaput, the Congolese health minister, arrived in Kananga, capital of Western Kasai region, with a convoy of local and international experts on Thursday but has called for more help.

    Medicines and protective equipment, supplied by the World Health Organisation, have been handed out to health authorities in the region ready to be transported to the affected zones. 

    "The priority for the WHO is to find those who are sick with Ebola, to isolate them and to trace the people with whom they have been in contact"


    Fadela Chaib,
    World Health Organisation spokeswoman

    "The priority for the WHO is to find those who are sick with Ebola, to isolate them and to trace the people with whom they have been in contact," Fadela Chaib, a World Health Organisation spokeswoman in Geneva, said.

    Medics from the charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF) have also been deployed on the ground in the affected regions.

    "Additional doctors, nurses, logisticians, water-and-sanitation specialists, an epidemiologist and an expert in Ebola fever will arrive in West Kasai in the coming days," MSF said in a statement released in Brussels.
      
    "Ebola kits" of plastic gloves, boots, glasses, masks and protection uniforms will be made available before the weekend, as well as material for taking samples from sick patients, it said.

    Ebola causes sufferers to bleed under the skin and in severe cases, from the mouth, ears and eyes.
     
    The virus, which has no known cure, is highly infectious for those who come into contact with a victim's body fluids.
      
    It is named after the Congolese river near the first recognised outbreaks in 1976, it has killed some 450 people in Congo and 1,200 people across Africa since its discovery.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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