‘On a knife edge’: Ebola outbreak threatens to escalate as violence rises

As violence aimed at response workers increases, the #Ebola outbreak in the Congo threatens to spiral out of control.
Doctors and health workers marched in the Eastern Congo town of Butembo in April, after attackers shot and killed an epidemiologist from Cameroon who was working for the WHO. Source: Al-hadji Kudra Maliro/AP

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is threatening to spiral out of control, with ongoing violence aimed at the Ebola response workers undermining efforts to stop spread of the deadly virus.

STAT spoke to a number of experts involved with or closely monitoring the situation to try to get a sense of where the outbreak in northeastern DCR is heading.

Each one agreed: A disaster is unfolding.

“The numbers in the last month have been horrifying,” said Dr. Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust, a major funder of the Ebola response. “It’s on a knife edge. I’m not sure how else to describe it, really.”

The World Health Organization is doing scenario mapping trying to figure out just how bad this outbreak might become. But Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the emergencies program, won’t share what they see as they look at their models. “That’s for planning purposes, not for speculation,” Ryan insisted in an interview with STAT on Monday.

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