WHO warns of ‘perfect storm’ in Congo Ebola outbreak

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could become worse due to a “perfect storm” of challenges that are allowing the disease to spread, a World Health Organization official warned.

Médecins Sans Frontières volunteers prepared to treat patients in the isolation areas in the Mbandaka hospital in Equateur province, Democratic Republic of Congo on May 20. File Photo by Louis Annaud/MSF/EPA-EFE
Médecins Sans Frontières volunteers prepared to treat patients in the isolation areas in the Mbandaka hospital in Equateur province, Democratic Republic of Congo on May 20. File Photo by Louis Annaud/MSF/EPA-EFE

A WHO health chief said ongoing violent disputes between armed groups, community resistance to public health officials advice and spread of the disease in broader area are making the Ebola crisis worse at a media briefing on the diseased in the Congo at the WHO’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
“We are now extremely concerned that several factors may be coming together over the next weeks and months to create a perfect storm,” WHO Deputy Director General for Emergency Preparedness Response Dr. Peter Salama warned at the briefing.

“Active conflict limiting our ability to access civilians, distrust by segments of the community already traumatized by decades of conflict and of murder, driven by a fear of a terrifying disease, but also exploited and manipulated by local politicians prior to an election,” have combined to worsen problems, he added.

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Ebola is spread through infected blood and bodily fluids with symptoms including unexplained bleeding or bruising, vomiting, muscle pain, and severe headaches, according to the CDC.

Salama said Tuesday that more than 100 people have died from the Ebola outbreak, which started in the North Kivu province with some cases reported in neighboring Ituri province as well.

The WHO’s warnings echoed those of Dr. Inger Damon of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who told the Daily Express last month: “Education is key – this is something we find with every outbreak.

BySommer Brokaw