The Ebola outbreak that began last August in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has now claimed more than 1,000 lives, the nation’s health ministry has confirmed.
Efforts to contain the disease have been hampered by misinformation and distrust on the part of local communities, who in some cases have retaliated against health teams by attacking them.
Dr. Michael Ryan, deputy director of the World Health Organization, said there have been more than 100 attacks on medical centers and staff this year, the BBC reported. This has limited many of the health services that non-governmental organizations are able to provide.
More than 100,000 people have received the Ebola vaccine, according to the Associated Press, but many more are fearful of it and refuse to receive it. In addition, violence in the eastern part of DRC has made it difficult to reach some areas of the country, and difficult to monitor the virus as it spreads. This has led to fears that Ebola may reach neighboring countries in the east, including Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.
U.S. Ambassador Mike Hammer told CNN that an outbreak of Ebola in western DRC last year was “successfully defeated within a matter of months,” partly because “it was in a secure area, an area not affected by conflict.”
The ongoing Ebola outbreak is the second deadliest on record. An outbreak in 2014-2016 in West Africa killed more than 11,000 people.
Symptoms of Ebola include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pains and occasional bleeding and is primarily spread through contact with bodily fluids. The disease is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.