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August 22, 2019

97 children dead from Ebola in DRC as outbreak worsens

February 11, 2019
A patient has her temperature taken at the entrance to a health centre, as part of a triage system and Ebola prevention campaign that has been set up by the Swiss NGO Medair, in Mbau, in Congo Friday, Feb. 1. (Kate Holt / AP)

A total of 97 children have died since the Ebola outbreak hit the Democratic Republic of Congo in August 2018 — and the disease continues to spread at an alarming rate.

Over 800 cases have been reported in the world’s second-largest outbreak, reports the Save the Children Federation, an organization which aims to help children in their everyday lives and during times of crisis. The disease killed more than 11,000 people in West Africa in 2014, according to the World Health Organization.

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More than 68% of the children who have died from the outbreak were younger than 5 years old.

Ebola has is a rare and deadly disease caused by a virus, according to the CDC.

Scientists believe people initially become infected when they come in contact with an infected animal — such as a fruit bat or primate like a gorilla or chimpanzee. The disease then transfers from person-to-person through direct contact with bodily fluids.

Within two to 21 days, symptoms begin to appear, but the average time is eight to 10 days.

Symptoms include fever, severe headache, fatigue, diarrhea, muscle pain, weakness, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained bleeding or bruising.

There is no vaccination or treatment for the virus, and the antibodies can live in infected people’s bodies for up to 10 years.

According to the World Health Organization, the average fatality rate for Ebola is around 50% — but can be as high as 90%.

Mbusa, 14 years old, washes his hands at a water point that has been set up by the Swiss NGO Medair, as part of an Ebola prevention campaign in Mbau, Congo on Feb. 1.
Mbusa, 14 years old, washes his hands at a water point that has been set up by the Swiss NGO Medair, as part of an Ebola prevention campaign in Mbau, Congo on Feb. 1. (Kate Holt / AP)

In the last six months, 731 out of a suspected 785 cases of the Ebola virus were confirmed, Save the Children reported. In the last three weeks of January, around 120 new cases of the virus were reported.

During the course of the outbreak, 484 people, including 97 women, have died. Women have accounted for 60% of deaths during the outbreak.

Heather Kerr, country director of Save the Children’s Country in DRC urged action to spread awareness of the virus and to try and halt its spread.

People in the country may be unaware of the virus and the threat it possesses if they are not properly educated. “If we don’t take urgent steps to contain this, the outbreak might last another six months, if not the whole year,” Kerr said in a statement.

“It is paramount to convince communities that Ebola is an urgent and real concern. People have disrupted funerals because they didn’t believe the deceased had succumbed to the virus. Aid workers were threatened because it was believed they spread Ebola,” Kerr said.

“We have to scale up our efforts to reach out to the vocal youth and community leaders to build trust and to help us turn this tide. Treating the people who are sick is essential, but stopping Ebola from spreading further is just as important.”

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