Diary from DR Congo's Ebola frontline

2007-09-19 14:36:02

Diary from DR Congo's Ebola frontline Zoe Young of the medical NGO, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), shares her diary with the BBC News Website from the Democratic Republic of Congo where she is dealing with an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus. Since the first MSF team arrived in Kampungu at the beginning of September, 25 severe cases suspected to be Ebola haemorrhagic fever have been hospitalised at Kampungu's health centre. Of these, eight patients have already died. When I got back into the MSF office last week after a holiday everyone was talking about a mystery disease in the Congo. Apparently there had been lots of deaths, but it wasn't at all clear what it was. Zoe is a water and sanitation specialist with MSF There were different theories in the office, and we had to wait for the results of tests on samples that were sent to three different labs for analysis. In the meantime, we sent our DRC emergency team to Kampungu, one of the affected areas, to set up the temporary isolation ward. The first result that came through was a positive for Shigella. Then, late last Monday, the results came through from the Centre for Disease Control in Atlanta: some of the samples had tested positive for Ebola. Everything changed straight away. Exciting landing MSF's Emergency Unit coordinated a meeting with our water and sanitation experts, epidemiologists, public health specialists and HR people to decide what equipment and staff to send. I boarded a plane to Kinshasa, the capital of DRC, two days later. Patients have to be treated very carefully and kept very separate from the community The seven of us travelled from Kinshasa to Kampungu on a 10-seater plane with a pilot who had a huge handlebar moustache. The scenery was lovely: mile after mile of jungly forest which looked like tightly packed broccoli with the odd dead white tree reaching up above the canopy. I didn't see... Devamı