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Ebola Situation Evolves in 'Concerning' Way Overnight

City of Mbandaka now reports 3 confirmed cases, a worrisome first for Congolese urban areas
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted May 18, 2018 10:30 AM CDT
In this photo taken Monday, members of a Red Cross team don protective clothing before heading out to look for suspected victims of Ebola in Mbandaka in the Democratic Republic of Congo.   (Karsten Voigt/International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies via AP)

(Newser) – Developments in a city in the Democratic Republic of Congo have taken what one health official deems a "concerning" turn overnight. Per the Guardian, Jean-Jacques Muyembe, the head of the country's National Institute for Biomedical Research, says lab results have confirmed two additional cases of Ebola in Mbandaka; one other confirmed case, called a "major, major game-changer" by the World Health Organization, had been announced earlier this week. Muyembe didn't note whether the three patients know each other.

CBS News reports it's the first time the Ebola virus has made its way into a Congolese urban area. The BBC notes such an outbreak in Mbandaka, a city of one million, is even more worrisome than if it took place in a more rural location, mainly due to the "potential for an explosive increase in cases," per a senior WHO official. The Ebola outbreak a few years back in West Africa killed more than 11,000 people, many of them in capital cities. Some residents of Mbandaka are alarmed. "I'm looking for a boat to leave," one tells the Guardian. "If the authorities have allowed the disease to arrive here, we all risk being killed." (An Ebola vaccine that's being fast-tracked.)

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