Why the latest Ebola outbreak is worrying health officials

The most recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is proving extremely difficult for the World Health Organization to contain, according to STAT.

This Ebola outbreak was declared Aug. 1, just one week after the WHO declared the previous epidemic over. Two weeks into the current outbreak and the Ebola case toll has already passed the previous outbreak, which had 54 cases and 33 deaths.

As of Aug. 14, there were 73 confirmed and probable Ebola cases, along with 43 deaths in North Kivu, a city in northeastern Congo near the borders of Uganda and Rwanda. The case count is quickly rising in this area, which is a conflict zone containing more than 1 million displaced people . The area is not only highly populated, but also contains "red zones" where outsiders may be banned from entering.

These zones pose an issue for healthcare workers trying to stop Ebola's spread, since they cannot conduct thorough screenings or determine necessary treatments for patients in the restricted areas. Healthcare workers' lack of access to the "red zones" could allow Ebola to spread unchecked and cause a significantly worse outbreak, according to STAT.

"That's really the worst-case scenario: That we can’t get in quickly enough to an alert [of possible cases] or we just have a blind spot because of security. And then an outbreak really begins to take hold in those blind spots and becomes a multicountry regional outbreak," Peter Salama, MD, an epidemiologist and the WHO's deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response, told STAT.

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