RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC - With funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, RTI International is responding to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Ebola, a severe, often fatal illness in humans, was first discovered in DRC (formerly Zaire) in 1976. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. The average Ebola case fatality rate is around 50 percent. There have been 11 confirmed cases of Ebola in the United States, originating from outbreaks in Africa. This is the eighth outbreak in DRC since the disease was discovered.
On May 11, 2017, The Ministry of Health declared an Ebola outbreak in the Bas-Uélé Province of Northern DRC, based on one laboratory-confirmed case and a cluster of patients with Ebola-like symptoms. The latest World Health Organization update reports two confirmed cases, three probable cases, and 14 suspected cases of Ebola, with another 101 contacts under daily monitoring. As the leading surveillance partner for CDC's Global Health Security Agenda activities in DRC, RTI rapidly mobilized to support the Ministry of Health's Ebola response activities.
As one of the first responders to the outbreak epicenter, RTI is part of the Surveillance Coordination Committee, working with epidemiologist and lab specialists from the Ministry of Health, WHO, Médecins Sans Frontières, and other partners to strengthen local capacity to detect, report, and manage information about suspected Ebola cases and their contacts.
"Strengthening a country's ability to prevent and respond to epidemics like Ebola is essential not just for the affected country, but for everyone around the globe," said Pia MacDonald, Ph.D., senior epidemiologist at RTI. "We saw in 2014 just how fast an Ebola outbreak can spread worldwide. It's essential that we work together to stop this threat as quickly as possible."
RTI is supporting the outbreak response and continuing its longer-term work to strengthen the Democratic Republic of the Congo's health surveillance system to more quickly identify and respond to public health threats.
RTI researchers will use the experience and knowledge gained from supporting efforts in 2015-2016 to halt the spread of Ebola in Guinea, one of the hardest-hit countries, to stop the spread of Ebola in the DRC.
Learn more about RTI's work in global health security.