Ebola Virus Outbreak Reaches City of 1 Million People in the Democratic Republic of Congo
The ongoing Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has now reached Butembo, a city of over one million residents near the Ugandan border, according to the Associated Press.
The 2018 Ebola outbreak in the DR Congo is the second worst in world history. So far, there are over 470 confirmed cases and more than 270 deaths due to the viral hemorrhagic fever, which has an extremely high fatality rate. Another 100-plus cases are under investigation, and Congo’s health ministry confirmed an additional 13 cases on Thursday, the highest one-day total since this latest outbreak was declared in August.
Part of the difficulty in containing the epidemic and vaccinating individuals against contracting the virus is the ongoing political unrest in the African nation. Rebel militias targeting Congolese civilians and soldiers, as well as United Nations peacekeepers, have stymied efforts to contain the epidemic. Indeed, on Friday, Reuters reported that militia members are suspected of killing at least 18 civilians near the epicenter of the outbreak in the eastern part of the DR Congo.
There’s an additional cause for concern as the outbreak continues: whether the vaccine stockpile will hold up. Specifically, health experts are concerned that the reserve of an experimental vaccine will run out as the epidemic continues without any sign of abating, according to the AP.
This Ebola virus outbreak in the Congo is second only to the outbreak in West Africa in 2014, which killed over 11,000 people.