Monday, August 25, 2014

DR Congo: " Earth rim walker seeks his meals Prepare the funeral pyres "

Jeune Afrique reports. ( Translated from French by Jeune Afrique's web translation service and cleaned up by me. All errors are mine ).

DRC: hemorrhagic fever of unknown origin "under control"

                                                              Ebola DR Congo  File photo

The Congolese Minister of Health, Dr. Felix Kabange Numbi, announced Friday that the hemorrhagic fever of unknown origin that has thirteen deaths since August 11 in the north-west of the Democratic Republic of Congo was "under control."

That is a huge statement but I am inclined to believe it given that the DR Congo has some experience at dealing with this.

The situation "is under control at Boende, especially in the area down to Lokolia. Until now the disease has been contained in areas Lokolia and Watsikengo" he told reporters on returning back from these regions in the province of Ecuador. He recalled that 13 people - including a pregnant woman, five health workers and a baby a month old - had died since August 11 after suffering a hemorrhagic fever "of unknown origin" which, after three or four days, causes in patients vomiting and diarrhea with "black blood."

It can take up to 20 days to present after infection according to some reports I have seen. That  is a large margin for error.

" Symptoms start two days to three weeks after contracting the virus, with a fever, sore throat, muscle pain and headaches. Typically, vomiting, diarrhea and rash follow, along with decreased functioning of the liver and kidneys. Around this time, affected people may begin to bleed both within the body and externally."

Lokolia and Watsikengo, thirty miles apart, are the epicenters of the disease. The minister said the fever transmission risk remain low because of the natural barriers to reaching these very remote areas, transport is by plane, road, boat and motorcycle. About 80 people who had contact with the deceased patients were tracked from their homes in Boende Moke, Lokolia, Watsikengo and Lokula. Of the 80 contacts, "there are eleven who presented with fever and diarrhea and they were already isolated," said the minister.

The infrastructure in the DR Congo is poor and that is the reason that previous outbreaks have been contained relativity easily but it certainly isn't grounds for complacency something that all to often seems to be the standard governmental response of Kinshasa.

Some people who live between Goma in DRC and Gisenyi in Rwanda confirm these control measures but judge them as fairly rudimentary.

The authorities have established commissions of patient monitoring, hygiene, sanitation and safe burials. Laser thermometers, protective gear (masks, hats, gloves ...) and sanitation equipment were distributed. Free health care has been authorised to limit contamination, residents are aware to greet with the elbow.

Better I would think to avoid any physical contact including elbows.

Too early to talk of "hemorrhagic fever"

On Friday morning, an official of the World Health Organization (WHO) which has sent experts to the affected area during the minister's visit and Doctors Without Borders (MSF) has personnel on-site, felt that it was still too early to speak of "hemorrhagic fever". We just have the 8 samples taken in the province of Ecuador that were deposited at the National Institute of Biomedical Research (INRB), announced the Minister of Health. "We hope that in seven to eight days to come, we will have the diagnosis," said he added.

It isn't too early at all Radio NZ News confirmed two cases in the DR Congo less than an hour ago. I can't ( unusual ) open their web page at the moment. The fucking insane American Republican Christian right  AKA The Stupid People are criticising the Obama administration over repatriation of 22 US citizens with Ebola. I doubt the figure and as far as I am aware it is only two people at this stage. I actually agree with the halfwits that it is a bad move but I suspect legally by virtue of American citizenship they have an absolute right to return. My reasoning is significantly different, the resources expended on returning said Americans would have been far better utilised in containing the outbreak.  I guess we still place a higher value on the lives of white Americans than we do on black Africans.

The then unknown disease that was discovered in the DRC in 1976 epidemic has caused since the beginning of the year in West Africa at least 1,350 deaths, including 576 in Liberia, 396 Guinea and 374 in Sierra Leone, according to a latest report of WHO, dated 18 August. In late July, the DRC increased its alert threshold including tougher screening of passengers coming from affected countries and prepositioned personnel for protection and diagnostics.

The news reports are assuring the world that it difficult to catch Ebola despite the figures above. They are all reporting that it is not an airborne disease, Ebola is a virus and like all viruses it can and will mutate. It may combine with other viruses. It may have become capable of airborne transmission, we don't know and " don't know " mean just that.

"If we are told that [the unconfirmed hemorrhagic fever in Ecuador] is Ebola, we will not be late because we will have already set up facilities that will allow us to contain the disease," said the minister. Ebola was first discovered in 1976 in the Congolese province of Ecuador. Since then, the DRC has experienced several deadly epidemics. I the last outbreak 36 was officially death count between August and November 2012 in the Northeast.

Watch this space.

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