Ebola Outbreak Worsens, Health Experts Urge US Presence In Congo As Terror Threat Intensifies

Disease specialists are needed to fight the Ebola virus, even though the violence against U.S. government facilities in Congo has increased.

Scientist studying ebola virus
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Disease specialists are needed to fight the Ebola virus, even though the violence against U.S. government facilities in Congo has increased.

Health experts from around the world are pleading with the U.S. government to send in disease specialists to help fight the recent Ebola outbreak in Congo, according to the Associated Press. Due to the increase in violence from rebel groups, disease experts have been benched after being ordered away from the area for security concerns.

More help is desperately needed to fight the deadly Ebola virus that has hit roughly 425 people in the North Kivu Province. On November 27, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared this outbreak the second largest in history. Health workers are struggling to treat those affected since the area has become like a war zone.

Workers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been moved to Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, to fight the outbreak from there. However, the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa was closed all week due to terror threats, according to the Associated Press. Congo has acknowledged the terror threat against the U.S., but global health experts are still urging the U.S. to send in additional help before the Ebola outbreak becomes catastrophic. Two well-known medical journals published its views this past week regarding sending some of the top experts back to Congo to try and get the outbreak under control.

“It is in U.S. national interests to control outbreaks before they escalate into a crisis,” global health experts wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association, according to the Associated Press.

“Given the worsening of the outbreak, we believe it’s essential that these security concerns be addressed and that CDC staff return to the field,” said a commentary in the New England Journal of Medicine.

sign warns visitors that area in Congo is a Ebola infected
  Sergey Uryadnikov / Shutterstock

The presence of the CDC in the affected province has been sorely missed and is needed back in the field.

“If the (U.S.) ban were not in place, the CDC would have a big and growing presence here,” said Dr. Stacey Mearns, Ebola response program director. “We haven’t seen the height of this outbreak. If want to see the end of this, we do need all critical actors on the ground.”

Dr. Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director-General, predicts this Ebola outbreak will last for at least another six months before it is contained. The deadly virus, which causes symptoms such as fever, headache, sore throat, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle and joint aches, weakness, rash, and internal and external bleeding, killed thousands in the West African outbreak in 2014. The Congo outbreak has surpassed the Uganda outbreak of 2000.