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THURSDAY, Aug. 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- In a show of support for international efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), U.S. health officials said Thursday that they remain committed to helping stem the spread of the deadly virus.
The outbreak was declared a year ago in the eastern part of the African nation, but armed conflict and other challenges have hampered efforts to control it, and that has increased the odds that Ebola will spread to neighboring countries.
On July 17, the World Health Organization (WHO) stepped in and declared the Congo outbreak was a "public health emergency of international concern." As of July 30, there have been 2,698 reported cases of Ebola, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"As the WHO … declaration makes clear, this Ebola outbreak continues to be a complex and serious public health threat," CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in an agency news release.
"CDC remains prepared for the prolonged journey ahead and remains committed to working with our U.S. government and international partners to support the response and end this outbreak," he said.
"One year into the fight against Ebola, [the] CDC and the U.S. government remain committed to working with and empowering the ministries of health of DRC and neighboring countries, in collaboration with other international partners, to ensure the outbreak response is well-coordinated to stop the spread of disease and end the outbreak," the CDC stated.
"CDC is committed to strengthening the health care system in DRC to help reduce the risk of future outbreaks, not only of Ebola, but of other diseases such as HIV, measles, tuberculosis and malaria," the agency said.
On June 13, the CDC activated its Emergency Operations Center to support the U.S. government response to the outbreak. The agency has sent more than 200 experts to Congo, neighboring countries and WHO headquarters.
In addition, 294 more CDC staff have supported the response from the agency's Atlanta headquarters and CDC offices in Congo and neighboring countries.
More than 171,000 people in Congo have been vaccinated with an experimental Ebola vaccine, including health care workers and other people at risk for Ebola, such as contacts of known Ebola patients, the CDC said.
Health officials have also screened about 79 million people at regional airports and at border crossings between Congo and neighboring countries.
There have been three travel-related Ebola cases in neighboring Uganda but no further transmission of the disease in that country, and one case where a person crossed into Uganda and then returned to Congo.
No other Ebola cases have been reported outside of Congo, and the risk of global spread of Ebola remains low, the CDC stressed.
-- Robert Preidt
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