In DepthInfectious Diseases

Worries about Ebola outbreak grow, despite use of vaccine

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Science  14 Dec 2018:
Vol. 362, Issue 6420, pp. 1225
DOI: 10.1126/science.362.6420.1225

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Summary

There's growing concern about an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) that surfaced in August and, despite a coordinated response that has included vaccinating more than 40,000 people, persists. Although it's not being formally evaluated, the vaccine appears to be having an impact, says Peter Salama, who coordinates the response for the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. But the outbreak in the northeastern region of the country is taking place in an area that has long suffered from armed conflict, which repeatedly has brought Ebola response teams to a halt. The outbreak has had some 500 cases, about half of which have resulted in death, making it the second largest Ebola outbreak on record. The largest, which took place in West Africa from 2014 to 2016, was considerably larger—28,000 cases, 11,000 deaths—but there is fear that if the international community does not do more to help the DRC by sending experienced personnel and more money, the outbreak could continue its spread—and could easily breach borders to neighboring countries. Editorials in two leading medical journals urge the United States government in particular to change a policy that, for safety reasons, bars staff from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from traveling to the DRC and helping in the affected region.

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