A single case of the deadly Ebola virus could reignite an epidemic in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a World Health Organisation specialist warned Wednesday.
Despite a recent dip in suspected cases of the lethal disease -- which kills its victims mainly through organ failure after massive internal bleeding -- Dr Dominique Legros, an epidemiologist with the WHO, warned against complacancy that Ebola was beaten.
AdvertisementA total of 25 cases of the highly contagious virus have been recorded in health centres in the central West Kasai region of DRCongo since September 11, with admissions dropping in recent days.
But Dr Legros warned that since Ebola has a 21-day incubation period, two consecutive 21-day cycles without a new case would be needed before the outbreak could be said to have been contained.
However, he praised the local population for its vigilance and "positive" approach.
"There have been lots of epidemics in the recent past where the inhabitants have been hostile. That's not the case at all here," he said.
Dr Legros added that despite the high mortality rate, the Ebola disease was not as gruesome as commonly thought.
"It's not like you see in disaster movies with people bleeding from every orifice," he said.
One of the biggest difficulties is that the initial symptoms are not that different from other illnesses such as Shingella, malaria or even measles, said the member of an international team who have been treating and monitoring the outbreak for the past fortnight.
He said that the likeliest source of further infection came from funeral ceremonies where corpses are washed, and health centres.