World Health Organization preparing for 'worst case scenario' in DRC Ebola outbreak

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Of the suspected cases, at least 18 people are thought to have died from the disease, whose initial symptoms include a fever, sore throat and muscular pain. The city is home to one million residents and only a few hours away from Bikoro, the area where the majority of cases have been reported.

On Thursday, the country's health minister announced the first death since the outbreak was declared earlier this week.

Five samples were collected from hospitalized patients, three from Ikoko-Impenge and two from Bikoro. The latest outbreak, two years... It has three hospitals and 19 health centers, most of which have limited functionality.

Formenty said the World Health Organization is in talks with the governments of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo to try to set up a system to control movement of boats on the Congo River, hoping to intercept and assess anyone who may be sick.

"If we see a town of that size infected with Ebola, then we are going to have a major urban outbreak", he warned. Medical supplies are provided by global agencies, but stockouts of medical supplies are common.

A team of experts has been despatched to Bikoro by the Health Ministry, Ilunga said. The WHO has already released $1 million from its contingency fund, and Wellcome Trust and the United Kingdom government have pledged £3 million ($4.1 million).

"The country is requesting it, and the response is underway", he said Friday.

To date, the outbreak is reported in a remote area and appears to be geographically limited.

He stressed however that the possibility of an worldwide spread of the disease was still considered "low", but said the situation was constantly being evaluated. The full extent of the outbreak is not known, according to the World Health Organization, and the location poses significant logistical challenges. WHO said it was working with Kongo officials to scale operations in the region and to mobilize public health partners there.

Although the DRC is resource poor, along with the WHO, MSF and Africa CDC, they are experience rich.

Health CS Sicily Kariuki said: "Among the measures put in place to enhance screening are electronic thermal scanners, handgun thermal scanners and the deployment of 101 extra health workers".

Ebola's potential to spread rapidly is the reason it's essential to have dedicated officials coordinating a response to an outbreak before it turns into a deadly epidemic or pandemic.