Ebola can destroy South Sudan if it spreads into the country from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, experts warn.
A family infected with the deadly virus recently managed to cross into Uganda, where two of them died, but health workers could prevent them from spreading it.
But it can be a & # 39; much heavier & # 39; story if people were to transfer the disease to South Sudan, to the northeast, because the country is poorer and in the grip of a civil war.
South Sudan is considered the & # 39; most vulnerable & # 39; neighbor of the DRC and has been on the alert for 10 months because people regularly cross the border.
Health officials have tirelessly tried to control the virus in the DRC, where 1,522 of 2,265 people diagnosed with Ebola have died since August.
But many factors have made it impossible to stop the outbreak so far, including local people who don't trust health workers and militants attacking medical camps.
An Ebola outbreak affecting the Democratic Republic of Congo has infected 2,265 people since August and killed 1,522 people – more than two thirds of those who caught it died
Uganda showed a quick response to wiping out any cases last week after the first cross-border spread. In the photo, a health professional administering a vaccine to a child in the village of Kirembo, near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in the Kasese district, Uganda
Uganda has more capacity to deal with Ebola than South Sudan, experts say. Pictured, family members of those who died of Ebola in Uganda and other villagers, listen as village chiefs and health workers educate them about Ebola in western Uganda
The DRC outbreak is deteriorating as it drags, with half the deaths since April.
The government in Uganda was praised for stopping Ebola spread management when three cases emerged after a family had crossed the border.
But Adrian Ouvry, a humanitarian adviser for the Mercy Corps relief organization, said South Sudan is not prepared to give the same response.
& # 39; Sudan would have a hard time & # 39 ;, he told MailOnline from Uganda. & # 39; The other countries at risk are Rwanda and Burundi. But of them, South Sudan is among the most vulnerable.
& # 39; Uganda has many times experience with Ebola. They know how to handle it where countries like Sudan would not.
& # 39; If something happened in South Sudan, there would be more panic than in Uganda, because it has far fewer resources. It would be much heavier if it were there. & # 39;
South Sudan, however, is not completely unprepared and has taken regular measures to prepare for the event that Ebola spreads there.
Ebola Task Forces meet weekly, lab staff are trained to safely handle samples for testing, more than two million people have been screened while entering the country and the public are being warned of the dangers of Ebola.
A vaccination program is also ongoing and more than 2,000 health workers in the south of the country have had a shock to protect them.
Juliet Bedford of the Social Sciences Platform for Humanitarian Action said it & # 39; happy & # 39; was until Ebola was confirmed in Uganda on 11 June.
She said: & I think that if it was South Sudan that it was reported, we would look at a very different scenario.
& # 39; Uganda has the resources and more capacity on site to deal with quickly.
& # 39; Less so the case in South Sudan. Here we look for a place where health structures are weak, such as in the DRC. & # 39;
Borders between countries are easy to transfer and are usually dependent on screening people's body temperature to see if they may have Ebola.
However, it takes three weeks to develop the symptoms, so this method is not watertight.
And people can use informal intersections to prevent screening, research shows.
Official figures show that half of the Ebola outbreaks have occurred since April, with two-thirds of the deaths leading to death
Local people have deep distrust of governments and volunteers in Western health care. It is primarily a problem in rural areas where communication is difficult. The villagers are pictured and receive information about the Ebola symptoms and prevention in western Uganda
Healthcare workers were repeatedly attacked during this epidemic, delaying their response. In the photo, a health worker in Uganda who puts on gloves before people are vaccinated
Mrs. Bedford said there is a huge amount of unofficial borders between African countries where families can cross whenever they want.
WHY IS EBOLA DISTRIBUTING DIFFICULT TO TREAT RURAL AREAS?
The 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa provided clues as to why the killer virus is so difficult to control in rural areas.
The worst outbreak in history began in the forested rural region of Southeast New Guinea and spread rapidly to neighboring countries Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The spread to Sierra Leone can be traced back to an unsafe funeral that took place in Sokoma, a remote village in the Kailahun district, near the border with Guinea.
The death of a respected traditional healer who had tried to heal others with Ebola in Guinea brought hundreds of mourners from nearby towns.
A traditional funeral and funeral ceremony can lead to the spread of Ebola from a deceased person. Part of the funeral can include the local custom to wash the body and then use the water as a blessing by placing it in the eyes and mouth.
Research by local health authorities suggested that participation in that funeral could be linked to no fewer than 365 Ebola deaths afterwards. Meanwhile, in Guinea, 60 percent of all cases were linked to traditional burial practices.
The Ebola disease escaped to rural Sierra Leone in the Foya district of rural Liberia and then entered densely populated Monrovia, a city with more than one million inhabitants. The first cluster was probably caused by a family trying to find spiritual healing in the city.
Researchers theorize that a lack of successful treatment in remote villages causes patients – who may believe that Ebola is a supernatural cause limited to their home, such as a curse – to flee to families in other communities, infecting many more people .
Although health workers work tirelessly to educate people about Ebola, many locals mistrust them – especially if they are Western.
Experts insist on developing strategies that take into consideration the way the local population thinks, such as using leaders or leaders of a community to use a message in their own colloquial language.
& # 39; There are national boundaries in force, but from a community perspective there is no physical boundary as you see it on a map, & # 39; she said.
& # 39; It's not that people in the UK go through France.
& # 39; Some are known as smuggling or trade routes where people cross markets daily. The border is open in some other areas. & # 39;
Another factor that makes it difficult to control the outbreak is the regular attacks of militants, who often target health workers or isolation camps.
Armed rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo – some of whom believe they are linked to the Islamic State – risk the lives of the local population and aid workers and have successfully killed many people over the past year.
Doctors and nurses working in the region have even threatened to strike if their safety has not improved.
Dr. Sterghios Moschos, associate professor at Northumbria University, said the situation is equally violent in South Sudan.
He said: & # 39; Much of the local negativity that would have been established in the DRC would have been bleed into similar groups in South Sudan.
& # 39; Unfortunately, South Sudan is a very poor country. It does not help that there are civil war problems and ongoing activities that are very deadly. As far as I know the security is not good. & # 39;
Even innocent local people make the answer difficult because many have great distrust of governments and volunteers in Western health care.
This is a particular problem in rural areas where communication is difficult and people are less educated and more susceptible to political or religious propaganda.
Dr. Moschos said: "Typically in these situations, it is never possible to easily penetrate the local area to provide healthcare.
& # 39; If, and hopefully not when, the South Sudan outbreak occurs, the situation becomes more problematic for the NGO's and the people who go in and try to help.
& # 39; It is already very difficult because they are subject to attack. & # 39;
Armed militia allegedly believe that Ebola is a conspiracy against them and have repeatedly attacked health workers who are fighting the epidemic.
Dr. Moschos said we should learn from an epidemic in 2014, in which 11,000 people died and West Africa was destroyed.
The epidemic started in a remote part of New Guinea and spread rapidly to Liberia and Sierra Leone due to porous borders, weak surveillance systems and poor public health infrastructure.
Remote villages in the Sierra Leone jungle – just like those in South Sudan – were unapproachable to the government, Dr. Moschos said.
Dr. Moschos, who developed a diagnostic test in 2014 that could be brought to the countryside with immediate results, said: & There was so much distrust of the local population in contact with the central government.
& # 39; You also had people literally in the jungle who were part of the individual movements, shall we call them, who actually did not want to do anything with the central government. They were left to do their own thing.
& # 39; But when Ebola reached them, people had to go inside to help and it was a struggle to try and explain what was going on.
# I cannot say for sure that this will be the case in South Sudan, but there is a lot of separation going on.
& # 39; Many myths make solving the situation extremely difficult – to the point where healthcare workers are being shot at. & # 39;
A family returned from the DRC to Uganda when they were stopped at the border. Suspected of having Ebola, they would be returned to Beni. But six escaped and entered Uganda through a market. Ebola was confirmed with a five-year-old boy and his grandmother when they were taken to the hospital in the Kasese district
The Ministry of Health in Uganda has announced that three cases of Ebola have been confirmed in the first known cross-border spread. On the photo, an ambulance in the hospital where the infected were in quarantine
A 50-year-old wife and her five-year-old grandson died in a hospital in Bwera, Uganda (photo)
The authorities have vowed to step up border security in DRC and Uganda following the cross-border spread that occurred as a result of a family that may have exposed Ugandans to the viral disease.
The family had been at the funeral of a relative in the DRC before stopping at a border while returning to Uganda,
More than one of them showed symptoms of Ebola – including vomiting, fever and diarrhea.
But the family escaped from the authorities and entered Uganda through a market place in Mpondwe, a busy border post where many use unpaved paths or footpaths.
A day later, the family hurried to the hospital in the Kasese neighborhood, where it was confirmed that three – two young boys and their grandmother – had been hit by the killer virus. The three all died in the coming days.
It prompted the World Health Organization to hold an emergency meeting on June 14, at which they concluded that the risk of spreading to countries outside the DRC remains low & # 39 ;.
A declaration of an international emergency in the field of public health (PHEIC) was rejected for the third time because the WHO said it would "cause too much economic damage".
The decision left experts disappointed because, they say, the answer is still hampered by a lack of money.
Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust medical charity, said declaring an emergency would have raised the levels of international political support that have been missing so far.
When cases of Ebola were confirmed in Uganda last week, Mr. Farrar said the epidemic is in a & # 39; really frightening phase & # 39; found and shows no sign of stopping in the short term & # 39 ;.
WHAT EBOLA IS AND HOW IS IT DEADLY?
Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever, killed at least 11,000 worldwide after decimating West Africa and spreading rapidly over the course of two years.
That epidemic was officially declared back in January 2016, when Liberia was announced by the WHO as Ebola-free.
The country, startled by the civil wars from start to finish that ended in 2003, was hit hardest by the fever, with 40 percent of the deaths that took place there.
Sierra Leone reported the highest number of Ebola cases, with nearly all infected residents of the nation.
WHERE IS IT STARTED?
An analysis, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found the outbreak began in Guinea – which neighbors Liberia and Sierra Leone.
A team of international researchers reduced the epidemic to a two-year-old boy in Meliandou – about 400 miles (650 km) from the capital, Conakry.
Emile Ouamouno, better known as Patient Zero, may have contracted the deadly virus by playing with bats in a hollow tree, a study suggested.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE STRUCK DOWN?
|COUNTRY||CASES||DIALS||DEATH RATE (%)|
|SENEGAL||1||0||N / A|
|SPAIN||1||0||N / A|
|UK||1||0||N / A|
|ITALY||1||0||N / A|
The figures show that almost 29,000 people have been infected by Ebola – which means that the virus killed around 40 percent of the people affected.
Cases and deaths were also reported in Nigeria, Mali and the US – but on a much smaller scale, with 15 deaths between the three nations.
Health officials in Guinea reported a mysterious bug in the southeastern region of the country before the WHO confirmed it was Ebola.
Ebola was first identified by scientists in 1976, but the most recent outbreak magnified all others recorded in history, showing the numbers.
HOW MAN MANAGED VIRUS?
Scientists believe that ebola is usually passed on to humans through bats, but antelopes, porcupines, gorillas, and chimpanzees may also be to blame.
It can be transmitted between people through blood, secretions, and other body fluids from people – and surfaces – that are infected.
IS THERE A TREATMENT?
The WHO warns that there is no & # 39; proven treatment & # 39; is for Ebola – but dozens of drugs and injections are being tested in the event of a similar devastating outbreak.
However, there is hope, after an experimental vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, protected nearly 6,000 people. The results are published in the The Lancet magazine.
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