16 January, 2009

Ebola Haemorrhagic Fever: Kaluamba village, Western Kasai province, Democratic Republic of the Congo

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) is again dealing with an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus with 46 people suspected to be infected and 14 dead. Just last year, an outbreak of Ebola led to the deaths of 187 people in this same region of Western Kasai. Angola has closed its’ border to the DR Congo, and immigration officials in Uganda have been put on high alert.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever is a filovirus that is transmitted from person-to-person via blood, secretions, and contaminated objects. The resurgence of Ebola in this particular province has previously been linked to the consumption of primates such as the Bonobo. Once infected, fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat develop followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and in some cases internal and external bleeding. The mortality rate of the virus is typically between 50-90%, and no specific treatment or vaccine is currently available.

The Ministry of Health of the DR Congo along with a wide range of international partners, including the Congolese Red Cross (DRC), Médecins Sans Frontières (Belgium), UNICEF, and the United Nations Organization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUC), have been working non-stop to contain the current outbreak. This advanced team continues to implement control strategies and is supporting outbreak field responses throughout the province.


Additional articles are available via www.HealthMap.org

05 January, 2009

Cholera Outbreak in Zimbabwe Continues

Cholera is caused by infection with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae, and symptoms include profuse watery diarrhea, vomiting, and leg cramps. Without treatment, death can occur within hours due to dehydration and shock. The bacterium that causes cholera is spread by contaminated drinking water or food.

In Zimbabwe, the lack of safe drinking water, poor sanitation, deteriorating infrastructure, and reduced numbers of healthcare workers reporting to work have all contributed to the continued worsening of the current outbreak of cholera. Countless media reports and news from various on-line sources continue to emphasize the severity of the situation in Zimbabwe. A reported 31,000+ people have been infected and over 1,600 have died. While cholera can be successfully treated with the immediate use of oral rehydration salts, many have limited access to healthcare. This has pushed the case fatality rate from the typical 1% to 5.7% (up to 50% in some more remote areas).

Despite monetary aid pouring in from countries throughout the world and aid from the WHO, Doctor’s Without Borders, the International Federation of the Red Cross, and many others, the most recent week’s report showed both an increase in deaths outside health centers as well as an increase in cases over previous weeks. With the rainy season having just begun, the likelihood of further spread of the outbreak appears likely. The red bubble on HealthMap.org may remain over Zimbabwe well into the spring of 2009.

More related articles available at www.HealthMap.org