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Ebola Case In Urban Area Leaves Experts Worried About The Outbreak’s ‘New Phase’ (Huffington Post)
May 16, 2018
From the article:
The Democratic Republic of Congo has confirmed a case of Ebola in Wangata, one of the health zones of the regional capital of Mbandaka ― which is home to over 1 million people.
The World Health Organization had reported two probable Ebola cases in Wangata earlier this week, affecting two brothers who were returning from a funeral in Bikoro, the epicenter of the outbreak. According to Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, the country’s minister of health, one case later tested positive for Ebola.
With the confirmation of the Ebola case, Kalenga announced in a statement that the outbreak has spread to a “new phase” because an “urban health zone” is now affected by the disease.
“It is very concerning,” Dr. Ashish Jha, director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, told HuffPost. “Look, the reason why most Ebola outbreaks have tended to dissipate quickly is because they’ve mostly been in rural areas, so there haven’t been many people to spread it.”
When Ebola enters a more urban zone, there are more people to spread the disease and more contacts for health authorities to trace, Jha explained, making it much harder to track and contain. As of Monday, 432 contacts were being monitored for Ebola.
“The turning point is if additional cases spawned by [this Wangata case] start popping up,” said Jeremy Konyndyk, who led parts of the 2014 Ebola response for the Obama administration. Konyndyk is now a senior policy fellow for the Washington-based Center for Global Development.