More than two million travelers checked at 37 points of entry — airports, river ports, and border crossings — between the Democratic Republic of Congo and neighboring countries. More than six thousand people who had contact with the sick, including health workers, or with others who had contact with them, vaccinated. Three different investigational treatment approaches given, so far, to 22 people. And at least 93 people so far confirmed to be infected with Ebola in the DRC, more than half of them now dead.
Signs greeted with reserved optimism this week that efforts to control and stem the impacts of the latest outbreak of the virus are beginning to succeed, didn’t come easy. Nor did they come quickly.
Stemming from lessons learned over the 42 years since the virus was identified in the country then known as Zaire, the efforts represent improved capacities and responsiveness of local and international entities, in the course of outbreaks across rural areas that took more than 700 lives in that country alone, before the explosion of the virus into West African capital cities killed more than 11,000 people. They represent an international acknowledgement that the risks of neglect and delay are unacceptably high and that the costs are unconscionable. The efforts that have so far ameliorated the impacts of the current outbreak reflect work to launch a Global Health Security Agenda to strengthen infectious disease preparedness, that began before the 2013-to-2016 Ebola crisis across Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia was recognized, and work that continues in the absence of outbreaks. But, in the continuing numbers that can be tracked — and translated — daily here, the current outbreak continues to tell the story of challenges that remain unknown, and unmet.