In less than a week, the Congolese authorities have counted 36 new cases of Ebola. A worrying number of babies, patients who were not known to receive Ebola in previous epidemics. Between 14 and 20 November, seven babies and children younger than two years old were diagnosed with the disease, according to the World Health Organization WHO. There were also six cases of children between 2 and 17 years and one pregnant woman.
Usually adults are particularly affected by Ebola because they are exposed to the deadly virus. There are cases of children who contract the virus when they act as caregivers. Only a few cases of infected babies are known. Experts suspect that the transfer is done via breast milk or close contact with infected parents.
The WHO calls the current outbreak “a complex issue”. According to the Congolese Ministry of Health, there are 393 cases, 346 of whom have been confirmed. In total, 222 killed because of the epidemic. It is the tenth, and heaviest, epidemic Congo has ever known.
The security situation in the east of the Congo makes it very difficult for relief workers to reduce the epidemic. There were already several attacks on aid workers that also involved deaths. The assistance was therefore stopped for two days but has since resumed.
In addition to children, 39 health workers have also become infected, and this makes emergency care even more difficult. The affected region borders Uganda and Rwanda. The risk of the epidemic spreading across national borders remains “very high” according to the WHO, but the agency currently does not recommend travel restrictions.