More Congo locals cooperating with Ebola response efforts, officials say

Local communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo are starting to better understand the magnitude of the ongoing Ebola outbreak and cooperate with response efforts, a senior official at the World Health Organization told STAT.

First responders faced significant community resistance and mistrust in the city of Beni, which is the current epicenter of the outbreak. Many locals have refused either Ebola treatment or vaccination. Earlier in October, the Congo's Health Ministry banned Beni residents from harboring Ebola patients.

Further complicating containment efforts is health officials' struggle to identify possible Ebola patients and track the virus' spread in Beni.

"There is underground community transmission in Beni. It may not be at a very intense level. But it is enough to continue and drive transmission in this town. And we need to stop it," Dr. Mike Ryan, assistant director-general of the WHO's emergency preparedness and response program, told STAT. "We need to pull the roots of this thing out of this city."

As of Oct. 24, officials confirmed 88 Ebola cases this month. Overall, there are 247 confirmed and probable cases linked to the outbreak, including 159 deaths.

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