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The Democratic Republic of the Congo is in the throes of its worst Ebola outbreak since the disease was first discovered there in 1976. It is the second-worst outbreak in history, behind the West Africa outbreak of 2014 that reached 10 countries including the U.S. and caused more than 10,000 deaths. About 10 new cases of Ebola are reported every day, and on June 8, health officials in DRC reported that 1,968 cases of Ebola have been confirmed with another 94 probable cases, and that 1,390 people have died from the disease.

The outbreak has prompted an international public health response, coordinated by DRC’s Ministry of Health, that began in August 2018. Recent advances in personal protective equipment—versions of which were developed by volunteers at Johns Hopkins—and the introduction of an Ebola vaccine for use in DRC should make disease control and prevention far more manageable. But public health experts say they’re not optimistic that the crisis in DRC will be resolved any time soon and that the scale of the problem is indicative of far greater problems.

“The hurdle right now is not the epidemiology or the medicine, it’s the soft sciences,” says Paul Spiegel, a professor of practice in the Department of International Health in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “Building relationships is extraordinarily difficult when there’s so much mistrust and misinformation out there.”

…continue reading ‘Ebola: A Public Health Response in Crisis’

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