A new Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo has infected at least two people and possibly killed 17, Buzzfeed News reports. The ministry of health of the Democratic Republic of Congo confirmed the outbreak on Tuesday, stating that the virus has appeared in the northwestern corner of the country. This is the ninth outbreak of the deadly disease since 1976 in the DRC — and there is still not a dedicated cure or treatment for the disease. So far, there have been 21 suspected cases of viral hemorrhagic fever in the latest outbreak. Although there are vaccines and treatments still in the experimental phases, Ebola is largely treated with IVs, fluids, and dealing with infections that arise from the disease through hospitalization. One of the most promising treatments is an experimental vaccine called rVSV-ZEBOV, but so far it has not been used for the current outbreak. The fatality rate of the virus is at around 50 percent.
The WHO confirmed the crisis this week and has assured officials that their response will be swift. “Our top priority is to get to Bikoro to work alongside the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and partners to reduce the loss of life and suffering related to this new Ebola virus disease outbreak,” Dr Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General, Emergency Preparedness and Response, said in a press release. “Working with partners and responding early and in a coordinated way will be vital to containing this deadly disease.”
The WHO also announced that it has released 1 million US dollars from its Contingency Fund for Emergencies, in order to support efforts and stop the spread of the disease to the surrounding areas. Because the Democratic Republic of Congo has had to face down the disease so many times they have achieved an efficient response level, one that they hope to build on with this outbreak. But the question remains why a deadly disease that reappears so many times still doesn’t have a cohesive treatment — especially when the first outbreak in the area occurred over 40 years ago. Some have pointed out that the outbreak happened just as the Trump asked to rescind funding set aside to help fight Ebola.
A new Ebola outbreak has sprung up in the Democratic Republic of Congo, just as Trump asks to rescind funding reserved for fighting Ebola. https://t.co/j0eE41u0sP
— Ed Yong (@edyong209) May 9, 2018
“Just as news of the Ebola outbreak broke, Donald Trump asked Congress to rescind $252 million that had been put aside to deal with Ebola, as part of a broader move to cut down on ‘excessive spending,'” the Atlantic reports. “That pot of money is the leftover from a $5.4 billion sum that Congress appropriated for dealing with the West African Ebola epidemic in 2015.” But the money leftover wasn’t gratuitous — it was intentional. It had held back so it was readily available in case of new outbreaks like this one.
Ebola can be stopped — this Vox article breaks down the issue and is well worth a read. It’s a horrible, dangerous disease that we have the power to fight. The rest of the world just has to care enough — even if Trump doesn’t.