Ebola Toll Tops 700 in DR Congo
Since last August, the second deadliest Ebola outbreak in history (the first being the the epidemic of 2014 that resulted in the deaths of over 10,000 people in Africa and Europe) has pervaded the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On April 6, the Congolese government confirmed that the deaths due to the most recent outbreak has surpassed 700. Furthermore, 100 of those deaths occurred within the first week of April.
In an attempt to control the spread of the disease, government officials have began vaccinating their citizens on the grand scale. With over 95,000 receiving the newly-developed vaccines by Merck to prevent the spread of the disease, a bright hope looms over the people of Congo.
All is not well for the government of Congo on the contrary; armed insurgency from Guerilla groups as well as rural communities’ resistance to receive medical treatment and vaccines have posed a serious risk to the exacerbated spread of the disease. In fact, because of public distrust for the government, more than a quarter of the people living within the cities of Beni and Butembo believe that Ebola doesn’t even exist!
In class, we learned a lot about pathogenicity, virulence, and even immunity.
Ebola is a pathogen with a high level of virulence. With such a high death rate from previous outbreak data, there is a high priority for such a population like that within the DR Congo to become vaccinated.
Furthermore, the concepts discussed in this article regarding mass vaccinations contributes to the idea of heard immunity. Since the government is stepping in to provide its people with the first ever effective vaccines for the disease, it is in the best interest to vaccinate as many people as possible against the virus for the sake of providing herd immunity and benefiting those who haven’t received the vaccine.
While Ebola may be contained within the northern region of DR Congo, it’s only a matter of time before it spreads elsewhere. Even more so, an effective vaccine has been developed for the virus and people within a country affected by multiple outbreaks of the disease are not even interested in what could be a solution to their future Ebola problems.
Although most resentment towards vaccination is stemmed towards distrust of the government of Congo, people should also be informed of the effects of herd immunity and how it could not only protect the people and their loved ones against the spread of diseases not limited to Ebola but potentially other harmful pathogens as well.
Now that there is an effective vaccine against Ebola, should the government of Congo mandate that its people receive it?