The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued an update on the current status of the Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). As of 23 May, there had been 58 reported cases – 28 confirmed, 21 probable and nine suspected – with 27 deaths. WHO warned that case numbers fluctuate daily due to many possible factors, including potential communication delays and the capacity of local laboratories, but these figures are as accurate as can currently be reported.
The ongoing outbreak in the DRC is caused by the Zaire strain of the virus, which is unfortunately the strain with the highest mortality rate (generally between 60 and 90 per cent, according to WHO).
Pharmaceutical company Merck has already provided over 8,000 doses of its experimental vaccine, and a further 8,000 doses will shortly be given to WHO. Peter Salama, Deputy Director-General of WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said: “The detective work of epidemiology will make or break the response to this outbreak.”
The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has updated its travel advice for the DRC due to the outbreak, warning against ‘all but essential travel’ to the area. “If you become ill during or immediately after travelling to the country,” it warned, “seek medical advice immediately. Medical care is extremely limited.”