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A Catholic religious priest infected by the deadly Ebola virus in Congo-Kinshasa

Father Lucien, a priest of the Congregation of Mission - Lazarists - in Itipo, a village in the province of Equator in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was quarantined following an infection by the deadly Ebola virus.

The current Archbishop of Mbandaka-Bikoro and also the new Archbishop Coadjutor of Kinshasa, Dr. Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, a Capuchin, visited his sick priest in an isolated Ebola treatment center in Itipo. It is a touching picture. Father Lucien is quarantined inside a linen fence. At first, the religious was standing and keeping distance while speaking with the Archbishop. Then he knelt down to receive the blessing of the sick Archbishop.

Ebola is a dangerous and often fatal viral disease. The Ebola epidemic broke out in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976 for the first time. The latest and ninth Ebola epidemic broke out on May 8 in the city of Mbadanka where 1,2 Million inhabitants are living. The name was given to the Ebola virus after the river Ebola in Congo.

The Ebola disease is mainly transmitted from infected animals to humans or from person to person. The transmission is mainly due to the direct contact with body fluids of an infected person such as blood, saliva, urine, sweat and tears. A sick person first suffers from nonspecific flu symptoms, then gets a high fever and it can come in the dreaded haemorrhagic course to an extremely strong bleeding tendency and thus quickly leads to death.

The Congolese Ministry of Health confirmed the death of 27 patients due to the current Ebola epidemic. In the epidemic in 2014 and 2015, more than 11,000 people died in West Africa. To stop the spread of Ebola disease, the Congolese government allowed on 21 May 2018 the use of an experimental vaccine against the Ebola virus. Employees working in health facilities and people who have come into contact with Ebola patients should first be vaccinated.

Over the coming weeks, it will be decided whether the vaccine used can contain the outbreak of the Ebola epidemic.

Jean-Bertrand Madragule Badi (P. Badi OP)

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