Two Major Infectious Disease Outbreaks Challenge Public Health Officials

Map of Ebola cases in Congo
Friday, April 26, 2019

Rising measles infections in the US and the spread of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) illustrate the difficulty of controlling outbreaks once they start. The spike in measles represents a major setback, since the vaccine was first introduced in 1963 and the Americas were declared measles-free in 2002. An article on the website of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), a Consortium member, notes there were 704 cases of measles in 22 states as of April 26; that puts the US on pace to exceed the previous post-vaccine record of 963 cases in 1994. While the Ebola outbreak in the DRC is receiving less media attention, it is far deadlier, with 1,466 cases and 957 deaths. CIDRAP reports that the difficult security situation in the DRC is a significant factor in managing the spread of the illness: "Throughout the outbreak, violent attacks have been followed by a rise in cases as surveillance and outbreak response is temporarily halted in the attack aftermath." CIDRAP provides daily updates on major infectious disease activity; visit their website here. Image of affected regions of the DRC courtesy of NordNordWest