An Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo that has killed almost 200 people since August will last at least another six months, the World Health Organisation has warned. 

Emergencies chief Dr Peter Salama said the central African nation's makeshift “tradi-modern” health centres, which offer both traditional and modern treatment were “major drivers” in transmitting the disease.

He added that the informal clinics were thought to be linked to more than half of cases in Beni, a city of 800,000 people in the North Kivu region where infections have been concentrated.

Download the new Independent Premium app

Sharing the full story, not just the headlines

It was “very likely” some cases of Ebola had been misdiagnosed as malaria, because early symptoms are similar, he said.

It would be “at least another six months before we could declare this outbreak over”, he added. 

In some cases, people appeared to have contracted Ebola while visiting the centres for other health concerns, he said. 

The health centres treating Ebola patients varied from stand-alone structures to “just a room in someone’s house”, according to the doctor, who last week returned from a trip to the central African nation last.

Dr Salama said residents were suspicious of foreigners, officials and formal health structures organisations.

“Probably more than 50 percent of cases in Beni have been driven from these tradi-modern health care facilities, and the fact that hygiene and injection practices in these areas are relatively unsafe,” he said.

An armed conflict between two opposition groups in the region made it “arguably the most difficult context that we’ve ever encountered," he added.  

Ebola is spread via bodily fluid and infection is often fatal. Symptoms can appear similar to the flu, before the onset of vomiting, diarrhoea, a rash and internal and external bleeding.

The current outbreak is the tenth the DRC has suffered and the worst since the country’s first epidemic in 1976.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

Comments

Share your thoughts and debate the big issues

Learn more
Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines.
  • You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully
  • Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable
  • Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties
  • We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification

You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

Create a commenting name to join the debate

Please try again, the name must be unique Only letters and numbers accepted
Loading comments...
Loading comments...
Please be respectful when making a comment and adhere to our Community Guidelines.
  • You may not agree with our views, or other users’, but please respond to them respectfully
  • Swearing, personal abuse, racism, sexism, homophobia and other discriminatory or inciteful language is not acceptable
  • Do not impersonate other users or reveal private information about third parties
  • We reserve the right to delete inappropriate posts and ban offending users without notification

You can find our Community Guidelines in full here.

Loading comments...
Loading comments...