Ebola outbreak in Congo now 2nd largest in history

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The outbreak has been heavily concentrated in the northeastern province of North Kivu, where a majority of all cases have been recorded in the conflict-torn city of Beni, which is home to 800,000 people.

That includes 379 confirmed cases and 47 probable ones.

DRC officials say the Ebola outbreak is the worst in country's recorded history. Dozens of armed rebel groups are active, and their deadly attacks have forced responders to pause crucial containment work for days.

The number of Ebola cases announced Thursday surpassed those of the 2000 Ebola outbreak in Uganda, making it second only to the 2014-2016 outbreak in multiple West African nations that killed 11,325 people, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "But the problem is, working in such an unstable area, you have to be assured of safety of the vaccinators, and you have to be able to trace the potential contacts and get them vaccinated", Peter added.

Given the complications, this Ebola outbreak will last at least another six months before it can be contained, World Health Organization emergencies chief Dr. Peter Salama has predicted.

Despite the challenges, Ebola health workers have made breakthroughs that have given new hope in the fight against one of the world's most notorious diseases.

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And yet the risk of Ebola spreading in so-called "red zones" - areas that are virtually inaccessible because of the threat of rebel groups - is a major concern in containing this outbreak.

It is not clear how many Centers for Disease Control and Prevention workers are now trying to tackle the outbreak from Congo's capital, Kinshasa, which is almost 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away.

"[We] will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the Congolese health ministry to do whatever it takes to bring the outbreak to an end", the World Health Organization's Deputy Director-General for Emergency Preparedness and Response has said in a tweet. New statements in two top medical journals this week are calling on the U.S. to change its mind and send them back where they are sorely needed.

In the Journal of the American Medical Association, one group noted that the United States government weeks ago ordered all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention personnel - "some of the world's most experienced outbreak experts" - from Congo's outbreak zone because of security concerns.

Ebola is a serious, often-fatal disease that is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads from human to human through the bodily fluids of people who exhibit symptoms.

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