Congo's Ebola epidemic takes its toll on children

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published on May 30, 2019 - Duration: 01:20s

Congo's Ebola epidemic takes its toll on children

The Democratic Republic of Congo's Ebola outbreak is the second largest on record - and it has inflicted an unusually heavy toll on children.

Lauren Anthony reports.

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Congo's Ebola epidemic takes its toll on children

Ebola's outbreak in the Congo has taken an unusually heavy toll on children.

This is the country's second largest epidemic on record.

More than a quarter of confirmed and probable cases as of early April were in children under 15.

That's compared to 18% in the last major outbreak in West Africa from 2014 to 2016 - according to the World Health Organization.

Ebola is spread through bodily fluids.

Children and babies are less equipped to cope with its extreme symptoms, which include diarrhea, vomiting, fever and bleeding - leading to extreme fluid loss.

The disease also has crippling effects on the immune system, and shuts down vital organs.

(SOUNDBITE) (Swahili) EBOLA SURVIVOR, MARCELLA KASWERA, SAYING: "When we arrived at the hospital, before the doctor even touched him, the child had already died in my hands.

It was the next morning that the results came out and they notified us that the child died of Ebola." Experts say women and children often visit health facilities that don't always follow cross-contamination guidelines.

Malaria has also been prevalent in some areas - adding huge pressure to health services.

This marks the Congo's tenth Ebola epidemic.

But it's the first in the densely populated provinces of North Kivu and Ituri.

Militias have been carrying out sporadic raids from hidden strongholds in the tropical forest here.

Women and children are often the first to be displaced by the bloodshed.

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