Ebola patients recover after experimental treatment

The head of the WHO congratulated Congo's government for making several experimental treatments available during the latest outbreak of the virus.

Two of the first 10 people to receive an experimental treatment for the Ebola virus in the latest outbreak have recovered, Congo’s health ministry has said, and monitoring could show what role the treatment played.

The head of the World Health Organisation on Saturday congratulated Congo’s government for making several experimental treatments available during the outbreak, calling it “a global first, and a ray of hope for people with the disease”.

The two people received the mAb114 treatment isolated from a survivor of an Ebola outbreak in 1995.

It was the first of five experimental treatments Congo approved for use in the outbreak that was declared on August 1. The others are ZMapp, Remdesivir, Favipiravir and Regn3450-3471-3479.

Switzerland WHO
Peter Salama, WHO deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, gives an update on Ebola operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Martial Trezzini/Keystone/AP)

The WHO said on Friday that Ebola has spread to an area of high security risk, a “pivotal” moment that endangers the health of medical teams.

Several armed groups roam Congo’s densely populated north-east, and health officials have said “red zones” where attacks occur pose a serious challenge to finding and monitoring contacts of infected people.

Congo says 77 Ebola cases have been confirmed, including 39 deaths and 11 recoveries. There are another 28 probable cases in which biological samples are not available for laboratory testing.

Nearly 3,000 people have received an experimental Ebola vaccine during the latest outbreak.

Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever, is spread via contact with bodily fluids of those infected, including the dead. It can be fatal in up to 90% of cases, depending on the strain.

This is Congo’s 10th outbreak of the virus and the first in North Kivu province, which, apart from the resident population, hosts an estimated one million people displaced by fighting.

The affected region in this outbreak, which includes Ituri province to the north, borders Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan.

While the WHO says the public health risk is high at the national and regional level, it advises against travel restrictions.

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