Health officials 'cautiously optimistic' on Ebola response

May 29, 2018
Health officials 'cautiously optimistic' on Ebola response
Peter Salama, left, Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response of WHO, sits next to Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Elhadj As Sy, right, as they inform the media about IFRC's and WHO's response on ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during a press conference, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, May 29, 2018. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

The World Health Organization said Tuesday it is "cautiously optimistic" about efforts to curb the spread of Ebola in an urban area in Congo, although the lethal virus is still reported in at least two remote areas.

There have been 35 confirmed , including 12 deaths. The U.N. health agency and partners have vaccinated more than 400 people with an experimental Ebola vaccine, the first time it has been used in an emerging outbreak.

WHO emergencies chief Peter Salama told reporters that the response has gone "quite smoothly" and that the agency's first priority had been to stop Ebola's spread in Mbandaka, a city of more than 1 million that sits on a river described as a "highway" connecting it to other regions.

"We can't conclude we have safeguarded the city of Mbandaka, but so far there hasn't been an explosive increase in cases ... We have reason to be cautiously optimistic," Salama said.

He added that the next stage of the vaccination strategy would focus on the remote regions of Iboko and Bikoro, where most of the cases have been reported.

Salama also said officials were planning to test five unlicensed drugs for Ebola, pending Congo's approval. Two of the drugs were previously used in past Ebola outbreaks, but the three remaining medicines have mostly been tested in animals. Salama said using the drugs in Congo's basic health clinics would be challenging since some involve and require daily monitoring of kidney and liver functions.

Health officials 'cautiously optimistic' on Ebola response
Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Elhadj As Sy, informs the media about IFRC's and WHO's response on ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during a press conference, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, May 29, 2018. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

Bikoro has had no electricity and no functioning lab, officials said, and outbreak response efforts in Iboko have required the establishment of helicopter landing sites and electricity.

Salama said WHO has been focused on three separate chains of Ebola transmission connected to a funeral, a church gathering and a visit to a center in Bikoro. He said officials were trying to monitor about 900 contacts of Ebola cases but couldn't say how many of the newly reported cases are coming from previously identified contacts.

Having new cases arise from people not already under observation suggests the virus could be spreading unchecked in certain areas.

Health officials 'cautiously optimistic' on Ebola response
Peter Salama, left, Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response of WHO, and Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Elhadj As Sy, right, arrive for a press conference about IFRC's and WHO's response on ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during a press conference, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, May 29, 2018. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

"This is a work in progress," Salama said, adding that the "overwhelming majority" of contacts were being followed up on a daily basis and that vaccination was providing further reassurance the epidemic might soon be controlled.

Health officials 'cautiously optimistic' on Ebola response
Peter Salama, left, Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response of WHO, sits next to Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Elhadj As Sy, right, as they inform the media about IFRC's and WHO's response on ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during a press conference, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, May 29, 2018. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

Health officials 'cautiously optimistic' on Ebola response
Peter Salama, left, Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response of WHO, sits next to Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), Elhadj As Sy, right, as they inform the media about IFRC's and WHO's response on ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, during a press conference, at the European headquarters of the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, Tuesday, May 29, 2018. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)

Explore further: 'Major, major game-changer': Ebola spreads to big Congo city

Related Stories

'Major, major game-changer': Ebola spreads to big Congo city

May 17, 2018
Congo's Ebola outbreak has spread to a crossroads city of more than 1 million people in a troubling turn that marks the first time the vast, impoverished country has encountered the lethal virus in an urban area.

Ebola vaccinations begin in Congo's northwest town of Bikoro

May 28, 2018
Officials began vaccinating health workers and others on Monday in Bikoro, where Congo's current Ebola outbreak was first declared at the beginning of May.

Congo's health ministry says doses of Ebola vaccine arrive

May 16, 2018
Thousands of doses of the experimental Ebola vaccine have arrived in Congo's capital amid the latest outbreak of the deadly disease, the health ministry said Wednesday.

Ebola vaccines to be shipped to Congo, WHO chief says

May 11, 2018
Ebola vaccines will be shipped as quickly as possible to Congo as the number of suspected cases in the latest outbreak grows, the head of the World Health Organization said Friday as the agency prepared for a "worst-case ...

Congo says Ebola cases have reached 30, warns against rumors

May 24, 2018
Congo's Ministry of Health said Thursday the number of confirmed Ebola cases has reached 30, including eight deaths in the three affected health zones in the country's Equateur province.

WHO preparing for the worst in DR Congo Ebola outbreak (Update)

May 11, 2018
The World Health Organization said Friday it was preparing for "the worst case scenario" in a fresh outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Recommended for you

First ancient syphilis genomes decoded

June 21, 2018
An international research team, including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, the University of Tübingen, the National School of Anthropology and History in Mexico City, and the University ...

California Aedes mosquitoes capable of spreading Zika

June 21, 2018
Over the last five years, Zika virus has emerged as a significant global human health threat following outbreaks in South and Central America. Now, researchers reporting in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases have shown that ...

Rhesus macaque model offers route to study Zika brain pathology

June 21, 2018
Rhesus macaque monkeys infected in utero with Zika virus develop similar brain pathology to human infants, according to a report by researchers at the California National Primate Research Center and School of Veterinary Medicine ...

Breakthrough treatment for crippling jaw disease created

June 20, 2018
A first-ever tissue implant to safely treat a common jaw defect, known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction, has been successfully tested by UCI-led researchers in a large animal model, according to new findings.

Cell-free DNA profiling informative way to monitor urinary tract infections

June 20, 2018
Using shotgun DNA sequencing, Cornell University researchers have demonstrated a new method for monitoring urinary tract infections (UTIs) that surpasses traditional methods in providing valuable information about the dynamics ...

New flu vaccine only a little better than traditional shot

June 20, 2018
A newer kind of flu vaccine only worked a little bit better in seniors this past winter than traditional shots, the government reported Wednesday.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.