WORLD Ebola in Congo now infecting newborn babies, UN says

WORLD

Ebola in Congo now infecting newborn babies, UN says

AP

22:17, November 23, 2018

The World Health Organization says a worrying number of the newest Ebola cases amid Congo’s ongoing outbreak are in patients not usually known to catch the disease: babies.

VCG111172927280.jpg

A Congolese health worker prepares to administer Ebola vaccine, outside the house of a victim who died from Ebola in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, August 18, 2018. (File photos: VCG)

In an update published this week, the UN health agency reported 36 new confirmed cases of Ebola, including seven in newborn babies and infants younger than 2 years old. Six cases were reported in children aged between 2 and 17 and one case was in a pregnant woman.

While Ebola typically infects adults, as they are most likely to be exposed to the lethal virus, children have been known in some instances to catch the disease when they act as caregivers.

Few cases of Ebola in babies have been reported, but experts suspect transmission might happen via breast milk or close contact with infected parents. Ebola is typically spread by infected bodily fluids. WHO noted that health centers have been identified as a source of Ebola transmission, with injections of medications “a notable cause.”

WHO called Congo’s current epidemic “complex and challenging.” Congo’s health ministry says there are 346 confirmed cases, including 175 deaths, in what has become the worst Ebola outbreak in the country’s recorded history.

The outbreak has been plagued by security problems, with health workers attacked by rebels in districts where the virus has been spreading. Earlier this month, Ebola containment operations were paused after seven UN peacekeepers and 12 Congolese soldiers were killed, but all activities have resumed.

The increasing number of cases in children and health workers — 39 health workers have been infected to date — suggests outbreak responders are having major problems stopping the virus in health clinics and convincing people to seek help when they develop symptoms. This is the first time this part of Congo has faced an Ebola outbreak.

WHO said the risk of the outbreak spreading to neighboring countries remains “very high” but it does not recommend travel restrictions. Uganda this month started vaccinating health workers against Ebola in a heavily traveled border district near the outbreak.

Cover image: A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a boy who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of Congo, August 18, 2018. 

Related Stories

Terms of Service & Privacy Policy

We have updated our privacy policy to comply with the latest laws and regulations. The updated policy explains the mechanism of how we collect and treat your personal data. You can learn more about the rights you have by reading our terms of service. Please read them carefully. By clicking AGREE, you indicate that you have read and agreed to our privacy policies

Agree and continue