The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) Ministry of Health (MoH) declared today the end of a recent Ebola epidemic. Between May and mid-July, the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) ran a three-month emergency intervention in Equateur Province to aid the MoH and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) response.
Throughout the course of the outbreak, Congolese MoH teams supported by MSF in Bikoro, Itipo, Mbandaka, and Iboko, provided care to 38 confirmed patients, 24 of whom survived and 17 of whom died.
In total, 3,199 people were vaccinated against Ebola with the investigational Ebola vaccine rVSVDG-ZEBOV-GP under WHO’s Expanded Access Framework by teams from MSF, WHO, and the Congolese MoH. MSF teams alone vaccinated some 1,673 people in the Bikoro and Itipo areas, including the contacts of confirmed Ebola patients and their contacts and frontline workers (health workers, burial workers, traditional healers, and motorbike taxi drivers) considered to be most at risk of contracting the virus.
Dr. Micaela Serafini, medical director for MSF in Geneva, said the following about today’s announcement:
“MSF welcomes this announcement and the end of the Ebola epidemic.
“Since the beginning of the outbreak, MSF set up its medical response along with national health authorities, providing care, isolation of patients, and health promotion activities, in addition to participating in epidemiological surveillance and safe burials in Mbandaka, Bikoro, Itipo, and Iboko.
“Along with the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization (WHO), MSF also participated in an investigational vaccination to hold off the spread of the virus. The data is still being analyzed, but we are encouraged that this vaccination—as well as the rapid international response and concerted outreach efforts into remote communities—contributed to stemming the spread of this deadly virus. Vaccination provides an additional tool for fighting such epidemics.
“While Ebola remains a threat in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, we are heartened by some advances made in the recent response. We also hope that the resources dedicated to this Ebola intervention in Equateur Province will have a long-term positive impact in the future by strengthening the capacity of DRC’s health system.
“MSF continues to respond to other non-Ebola outbreaks elsewhere in the DRC, such as measles and cholera. MSF is also continuing research efforts into potential treatments for Ebola in order to give patients the best possible chance of beating the virus in case of a new epidemic.”