An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo risks spreading to major towns if not brought under control soon after the death toll doubled within a week, the World Health Organisation has warned.
The number of people killed by the contagious virus for which there is no known treatment has now risen to 31, including five health workers. Ebola causes massive bleeding and kills up to 90% of its victims.
This has been percolating for some time now. Ebola is perhaps the scariest virus we face well the people of Central Africa face.
"The epidemic is not under control. On the contrary the situation is very, very serious," Eugene Kabambi, a WHO spokesman in Congo's capital Kinshasa, told Reuters by phone on Thursday.
"If nothing is done now, the disease will reach other places, and even major towns will be threatened," he said, adding that an estimated $US2 million had to be urgently found to pay for measures to tackle the disease.
Not a lot of money, excuse me have we dropped the ball again ? I get frustrated with Africa but far more frustrated when we in the west drop the ball like this US $ 2 million. If an ebola epidemic happened the cost would be astronomic.
The outbreak, which is believed to have been caused by tainted bushmeat hunted by local villagers, has so far struck in the towns of Isiro and Viadana in the northeastern province of Orientale.
The real issue will be is this strain airborn if it is the risks multiply exponentially due to the ability of the strain to transmit.
Some 16 people in neighbouring Uganda died of the disease last month, though the WHO said the two epidemics were not connected.
The latest WHO figures show there are now 65 probable or suspected cases of Ebola in Congo, with 108 people under surveillance.
Kabambi said one suspected case in Kinshasa had come back negative. Congo's ramshackle capital is home to at least nine million people and its health sector is crumbling.
That is very good news isolation is the key to beating this. If it gets to a major city or population area well it doesn't bear thinking about. But one day it will.
Congo's infrastructure has been devastated by decades of corruption, conflict and misrule. The country last year came bottom of a United Nations development index.
Well yes and no. Nothing is as simple as that statement would make it seem. Incidentally the WHO website is a shambles. Ironically the lack of infrastructure is what probably has saved the west from an epidemic. It has also prevented research and killed hundreds of people.