In DepthPUBLIC HEALTH

Congo rapidly curtails Ebola

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Science  20 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6399, pp. 211-212
DOI: 10.1126/science.361.6399.211

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Summary

An outbreak of Ebola that surfaced in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on 8 May has petered out and, for the first time, a vaccine may have had a role in containing spread. To date, Ebola has struck 53 people in the DRC's Équateur province, killing 29. Most everyone lived in remote, difficult-to-reach villages, although four cases surfaced in the heavily populated city of Mbandaka, triggering serious concerns of an epidemic exploding. A vigorous, rapid effort to contain spread began immediately, with the DRC's Ministry of Public Health working with international partners to build treatment facilities, conduct surveillance, and trace contacts of cases. On 21 May, a vaccine effort began that focused on creating a "ring" around cases by vaccinating people they may have come in contact with directly or indirectly. Some 3300 people received the vaccine, which is still experimental and was given in a clinical trial. But the trial did not have a control group, so it will not be possible to assess the precise role, if any, it played in stopping spread. Then again, no one who received the vaccine developed the disease as of yet, and researchers noted that simply providing it helped with Ebola education.