Health Editor’s Note: The World Health Organization (WHO) decided that it was not necessary to alert the earth to the fact that there was an outbreak of ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Not a wise choice for us. WHO relates that they did not want to “alert” the rest of us, those not in the DRC, that ebola was afoot.
WHO decided that this outbreak of ebola was not a global threat even though this outbreak was on the border that DRC shares with Uganda. The initial symptoms of Ebola are no different than those that accompany a common cold or flu.
The reason for my health comment is that with how easy it is to travel, especially travel by air, a person who is infected with Ebola could be all the way on the other side of the world before he or she knows he or she is sick. Everyone that came in contact with that infected individual has the potential to contract the virus.
WHO cannot know that everyone who had the potential for having the Ebola virus was contained in a ground zero area of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Just because previous outbreaks had not elicited Ebola from being spread outside an area, does not mean that will always be the scenario. Anyone with plans to travel to an area has the right to know if he or she is going into a potentially life and death situation.
Viruses do not care who they infect. A virus’s only purpose, as far as a virus is concerned, is to multiply and in order to do that they hijack healthy cells of anyone they come in contact with. Humans have to make wiser decisions on how to alert the rest of the world to a potential health/deadly threat.
For those of you who are not familiar with this horrific disease, ebola (ebolavirus), here is a brief description of it. Ebola is also known as Ebola virus disease and Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) and as you can tell from the name title, is caused by a virus and occurs in humans and primates.
The beginning symptoms of having this virus, are muscle pain, fever, sore throat, and headaches to be followed by a rash, vomiting and diarrhea with liver and kidney dysfunction. This is when the internal and external bleeding occurs.
This virus is deadly with kill rates of between 25 and 90 percent of the infected and is spread through contact with body fluids from the infected person or from other animals.
This is a virus that you do NOT want to be exposed to. Rapid detection and isolation is paramount to keeping this virus from spreading. Immediate care of the infected and protection of caregivers, as well as proper disposal of the dead and any of the infected person’s body fluids must begin immediately as there is no cure for this viral infection. The world needs to know if there is a potential for harm, especially when harm can mean death….Carol
]HO: Ebola Outbreak in Congo Not a PHEIC
Committee saw no ‘added value’ to declaration, cited strong international response to outbreak
…by Molly Walker, Staff Writer, MedPage Today
The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is not a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) at this time, the World Health Organization (WHO) determined on Wednesday.
Following an International Health Regulations Emergency Committee meeting, the WHO concluded that the outbreak is of high regional importance, but is not currently a global threat — and due to strong government leadership and a robust international response team already in place, there was no “added value” to declaring a PHEIC, they said.
In a press briefing, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, MSc, went through the criteria the Emergency Committee considers when declaring a public health emergency of international concern. The panel concluded that while this outbreak was extraordinary because of the security challenges involved, there have been many other Ebola outbreaks in the DRC. Also, not a single case has been “exported” to another country as of yet, and international health workers are on the scene.
“There is some optimism that this outbreak, just like the one in May, will be brought under control within reasonable time,” Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the briefing.
WHO officials also cited potential disadvantages to a PHEIC — namely that it may have implications on travel and trade, and could hinder the efforts of the response teams and their ability to control the outbreak.
The WHO gave the latest update on the situation — the current case count is 216 people who have been infected with Ebola, including 139 deaths and 57 who have recovered from Ebola. In addition, more than 18,000 people have been vaccinated, including 4,000 children.
WHO officials also previewed the addition of a new “more geographical, population-based vaccination strategy” along with the traditional ring vaccine strategy used throughout the outbreak.
In addition, they reported that 75 people have been treated with experimental therapeutics, and a randomized controlled trial to test those therapies more rigorously is expected to start “within the next couple months.”
Since August, the WHO has deployed more than 250 people in the DRC, and Adhanom Ghebreyesus cited their efforts as a reason for optimism.
“The staff refused to even take a break, saying ‘we don’t want to break until this thing is finished,'” he said.
When asked about reports that the CDC had pulled workers from the DRC, Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “U.S. security guidelines are stricter.” He added that they believe they have the experts to cover any “gaps” that would arise from the CDC pulling staff.
The WHO acknowledged the concern that the outbreak is so close to the border with Uganda, but Peter Salama, MBBS, WHO deputy director for emergency preparedness and response, said that the committee discussed the “level of preparedness” of the neighboring country. They concluded that Uganda is “well-prepared,” with strengthened surveillance and “a lot of very detailed contact tracing.”
Salama also said that the decision about whether or not to declare a PHEIC was part of “a process,” and not just a “one-off decision.” Another meeting can be called “if the situation changes,” he said.