The latest Ebola outbreak in Central Africa is over

The latest Ebola outbreak in Central Africa is over

By Luke Vargas   
Published
A public health poster in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during a 2015 Ebola outbreak offers information on preventing transmission of the disease. Photo: Dylan Lowthian/UNDP
A public health poster in the Democratic Republic of the Congo during a 2015 Ebola outbreak offers information on preventing transmission of the disease. (Photo: Dylan Lowthian/UNDP)

Health officials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo declare an end to an Ebola outbreak that began in the country’s remote rain forests this spring.

UNITED NATIONS – Health officials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have declared an end to an Ebola outbreak that began in the country’s remote rain forests this spring.

The outbreak claimed 33 lives but was contained before it could spread across Central Africa.

Tarik Jasarevic is a spokesperson for the World Health Organization in Geneva.

“Democratic Republic of the Congo beat this outbreak of Ebola through traditional methods such as case investigation, contact tracing and providing care to the sick. And also with new tools, such as vaccinating people who were at risk of being infected.”

All told, 3,000 people were vaccinated in a campaign credited with increasing local trust in health professionals.

“Having these people coming to you, responders, was not only to take sick people away that you might not see them any longer, but these people were bringing some hope that was the vaccine.”

Armed with new medicines and the experience of beating nine Ebola outbreaks since the 1970’s, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is ready to battle future outbreaks.

Some aren’t sure the same can be said of the United States, where a handful of Ebola cases in 2014 sparked panic.

Dr. Craig Spencer is the Director of Global Health at Columbia University Medical Center.

“When it comes to other public health threats, I’m not all that confident that we as an American public are going to respond that much better in 2018 or 2019 than we did in 2014 to the West Africa Ebola outbreak.”

Spencer contracted Ebola while volunteering in Guinea in 2014, and from his hospital bed in New York he watched as the media and politicians fueled hysteria about his case of Ebola instead of educating the public about the disease.

“Public health professionals think in nuance, with confidence intervals and what not. Politicians don’t necessarily need to take the same tack, and are able to make stronger statements regardless of whether or not they’re in the public health interest. One of the big changes needs to be more public health professionals in political leadership.”

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