Cablegate: Congo/B: Update On Ebola Outbreak in Northern

Published: Tue 24 May 2005 08:21 AM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
Department Please Pass CDC
E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: CONGO/B: Update on Ebola Outbreak in Northern
Republic of Congo
1. Summary. Econ/Cons Off and DCM attended a UNDP meeting
18 May 2005 on the recent outbreak of Ebola in the north
central region of the country. At the meeting it was
confirmed that the recent cases observed in the northern
region of Cuvette-Ouest were indeed Ebola. The government
is working with Medecins Sans Frontieres-Holland (MSF),
World Health Organization (WHO), and local and international
non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to respond to this
crisis and, specifically, to limit the expansion, take
charge of those infected, and contain and monitor those
believed to have been exposed.
2. On April 27, 2005, the Republic of Congo announced an
epidemic alert. Between April 27 and May 16, nine deaths
have resulted from 11 observed cases (an 81% fatality rate).
Of the deaths, eight were in the Etoumbi district and one
was in the Mbomo district (north central regions of the
country). In addition, 84 subjects have been identified as
having been exposed. In response, Etoumbi has been placed in
quarantine. This is the fourth outbreak since 1996 in the
Cuvette-Ouest region, which is located about 400 miles north
of Brazzaville.
3. Taken together, the high fatality rate and repeated
outbreaks have motivated the Government of the Republic of
Congo (ROC)to raise the alert to the national level and to
seek the active assistance of WHO, MSF-Holland, ECOFAC, and
the Congolese Red Cross. The current contingency plan
specifically foresees interventions by public sector
officials from the Ministries of Health & Population,
Environment & Forest Economy, Territorial Administration,
and Security as well as assistance from an international
intervention team composed of WHO, local NGOs (Congolese Red
Cross & CARITAS), and international NGOs (MSF, ECOFAC, and
4. The plan primarily concentrates on combating the epidemic
on the ground in the region currently affected to avoid
further spreading. Needed in the region are medicines,
beds, bedding, food, and transportation. On the national
level, the plan calls for increased public sensitizing about
the vectors of the disease (consumption of infected monkey
meat, for example), signs of the illness, and what to do
when confronted with those who may be infected.
5. Comment: On the optimistic side, over the past decade
technical expertise in country has increased considerably
due to the previous crises and the public sensitizing
campaign has been considered fairly effective. The Cuvette-
Ouest region is, however, remote, difficult to reach, and
very poor. In addition, forest communities traditionally
consume bushmeat as a staple, and despite the public
sensitizing campaign the temptation to consume bushmeat - a
suspected vector of the disease - continues. There are also
very few alternative protein sources for forest communities
which also adds to the temptation to consume bushmeat.
6. Brazzaville Embassy Office - Sanders
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