Ebola – same, same, yet different?

From 2014-2016, the Ebola outbreak in West Africa claimed over 11, 000 lives. Now we are facing Ebola again, but at markedly reduced rates. This year, Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo has taken merely two dozen. So, what has changed?

Firstly, the location. While the 2014 outbreak occurred in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, the Democratic Republic of Congo is located in central Africa, and this is the country’s 9thEbola epidemic, leaving the DRC much better equipped to handle the disease.

A robust response from the country’s healthcare system as well as international organisations such as the WHO means that vaccines and therapeutics are much more widely available and accessible. Some of these therapeutics were developed in response to the 2014 outbreak, but we were only ready for use once the epidemic had burnt out. In addition, new therapies such as post-exposure antibodies are now available. This time, the world was poised to act from day one.

Authorities are confident that this outbreak will soon be contained, highlighting the ongoing need to ‘take notes’ to prevent history repeating itself. It seems that this time, we were successful.

– Hafsah Brown

 

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