DRC – The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has announced that health authorities are investigating a suspected case of Ebola virus disease in the country’s eastern province of North Kivu in an effort to avert a possible spill-over of the viral hemorrhagic fever.
The country also sent samples to the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB), World Health Organization’s (WHO) first collaborating center in the DR Congo, for confirmation as per standard procedure to determine if the patient contracted Ebola.
WHO Regional Director for Africa Dr Matshidiso Moeti said the United Nations agency is on-the-ground supporting health officials to investigate the case and prepare for a possible outbreak while the preliminary analysis of samples taken is ongoing.
“The suspected case is a 46-year-old woman who died on 15 August 2022 in Beni, a town located in North Kivu. The case received care at the Beni Referral Hospital, initially for other ailments, but subsequently, exhibited symptoms consistent with Ebola virus disease,” WHO highlights.
Subsequently, WHO staff are working closely with health authorities to ramp up detection and track contacts for infection control and prevention particularly to identify anyone who came in contact with the suspected case and monitor their health.
Ebola is a severe and too often fatal illness, and previous outbreaks and responses showed the importance of early diagnosis and treatment with optimized supportive care that includes fluid and electrolyte repletion and treatment of symptoms.
The leading authority on scientific and public health information is partnering with relevant officials to ensure proper infection prevention and control measures are in place, that treatment can be made available for those who need it and to raise awareness about Ebola among local communities.
The World Health Organization also advises using two monoclonal antibodies namely mAb114 (Ansuvimab; Ebanga) and REGN-EB3 (Inmazeb) that were first approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for use against the Zaire ebolavirus species in 2020.
“The clinical trials were conducted during Ebola outbreaks, with the largest trial conducted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, demonstrating that the highest level of scientific rigor can be applied even during Ebola outbreaks in difficult contexts,” WHO notes.
The African Union Commission, through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), will also be working closely with the Government of the DRC and partners including the United Nations entities as it has done in the past.
Meanwhile, the Government of Kenya has put health surveillance officials at the borders on high alert amid the ongoing investigations of the suspected Ebola case in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
A Ministry of Health official told Kenyan local newspaper The Star that the country has heightened its surveillance systems to watch out for and control the threat of any disease including Ebola.
Furthermore, Kenya is already taking part in East African countries’ simulation exercises that focus on reinforcing disease surveillance at points of entry in concerted efforts to curb recurrent outbreaks and disasters in the region.
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