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Ebola returns to the Democratic Republic of Congo - expert comment

Dr Mike Tildesley, associate professor in the Department of Life Sciences at Warwick, comments on the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He comments: "The current outbreak of Ebola in DRC represents the largest in terms of number of reported deaths since the devastating outbreak in West Africa in 2014.

"However, at this stage there is little information to confirm the true nature of the outbreak - the cases are confined to one town in the northwest of the country and the number of reported deaths is 17. This is complicated by the long incubation period of the disease - it can take up to 21 days for clinical signs to occur (with an average of 4 to 10 days) so there may be more individuals currently incubating the disease that have not yet been detected.

"Recent evidence suggests that mortality can reach as high as 90%, so it is vital to actively monitor this situation, hence the need for rapid response. Appropriate intervention measures would include wearing of protective clothing by health workers, washing of hands with soap and water both in hospitals and in the community and locally guided education regarding the potential for transmission via bodily fluids, which can even occur after an individual has died from the virus. This situation needs monitoring, but the long incubation period means that it is important to introduce interventions rapidly, as by the time that clinical signs are observed, many more people may already be infected."

Dr Tildesley has worked on modelling Ebola outbreaks and developing a new approach to disease management in collaboration with an international team of researchers. Read more here.

For press information, contact:
Andrea Cullis
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University of Warwick
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