Congo uses experimental Ebola treatment on patients

Ebola,DR Congo,drug

Ebola,DR Congo,drug

Democratic Republic of Congo has started using the experimental mAb114 Ebola treatment on patients in the east of the country, the health ministry said on Tuesday, the first time it has been deployed against an active outbreak.

The latest attack occurred as the World Health Organization director-general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was visiting the area to see the response to the Ebola outbreak, which is being carried out in some cases under armed escort.

They were followed by first-line health workers from the Mangina health center, who had been in contact with confirmed Ebola cases.

So far, Congo's health ministry has said 48 cases of hemorrhagic fever have been reported in this outbreak, 21 of them confirmed as Ebola.

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that he's even more anxious about the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) after his recent visit to the country, mainly because of the intense security challenge in the virus-hit areas.

The new outbreak poses the same problems as past cases in the DRC, including major logistical hurdles in a volatile country with weak health infrastructure.

These areas are inaccessible because of the more than 100 armed groups that are mainly fighting over access to mineral resources.

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There are designated "red zones" where health workers cannot go because of the insecurity, raising concerns that cases could easily spread there, he said.

"That environment is really conducive for transmit freely". "It doesn't choose between this group or that group", he said. It is often fatal if untreated.

Making matters worse, Dr. Ghebreyesus said seven health care workers in Mangina - not far from Beni - have been infected by Ebola, meaning responders have had to scramble for replacements.

Developed in the United States, the prototype drug is a so-called single monoclonal antibody - a protein that binds on to a specific target of the virus and triggers the body's immune system to destroy the invader.

The new outbreak remains a high risk regionally and nationally, but "the risk of worldwide spread is now at low level", Tedros said.

What makes the outbreak in Eastern DRC or Northern Kivu more unsafe, is that there is a security challenge. Four other experimental treatments have been approved for use, he said. More than 200 health workers have been vaccinated, along with 20 residents in the Beni region, he said.

Vaccination efforts have begun in high-risk areas of North Kivu.

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