Ebola outbreak – August 15 2019

Q & A: The Ebola outbreak explained

Find out what Ebola is, what's happening in the DRC and how SOS Children’s Villages are working to protect children.

What is the DRC Ebola outbreak?

The second-largest Ebola outbreak in history is threatening children and families in the DRC now. One year since the outbreak began, more than 2,300 people have been infected – and the spread of the virus is accelerating.

Four times as many children have died in the DRC outbreak in the last six months than in 2018.

The virus has now travelled 150 miles to the city of Goma, home to two million people, prompting the World Health Organisation to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern.

It has already crossed the border into Uganda, and fears are mounting that the virus will spread into several other countries which share borders with the DRC – Angola, Zambia, Rwanda and South Sudan.  

What is Ebola?

Ebola is a rare virus, but it can be deadly. It is spread by coming in close contact with someone who has the infection, or their body fluids. There is no known cure, although an experimental drug is being administered to healthcare workers on the frontline. Symptoms can be treated however, and early medical intervention can significantly improve the chances of recovery. Symptoms include a very high fever, weakness, joint and muscle pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, and bleeding.

Ebola is relatively new – it was only discovered in 1976 - but since then it has led to the deaths of thousands of people.

Is it dangerous for children?

Yes. Reports suggest the DRC outbreak has already resulted in the deaths of more than 500 children. Young children are particularly vulnerable to contracting the Ebola virus and 40% of infected children are under five years old. 

We are very worried about the number of children who could lose their parents to the virus. Last time there was an Ebola outbreak of this severity, thousands of children were left orphaned, or abandoned because of stigma against survivors.

We are caring for many children who were left alone by the 2015 Ebola outbreak in our village communities across West Africa, such as in the Liberian city of Monrovia, where half of the children we care for lost their parents to Ebola.

Read Left alone by Ebola: Alphia’s story

What was the worst Ebola outbreak in history?

The worst Ebola outbreak in history happened just five years ago in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. It killed five times more than all other known Ebola outbreaks combined and spread quickly because of a lack of awareness on how to prevent the spread of the virus, a slow response to the crisis, and limited access to good healthcare.

Nobody wants to see this happen again.

What is SOS Children’s Villages doing?

SOS Children’s Villages in the DRC and Uganda are working to contain the spread of the virus by running community workshops and prevention campaigns. Making sure people know how to protect themselves and their families from Ebola is key to stopping the spread of the virus and saving lives.

Our village communities are also taking precautions to protect the children under our care, limiting the movement of staff and children to prevent infections.

SOS has a history of working to prevent the spread of Ebola. During the 2015 outbreak, our health centre in Monrovia, Liberia, was the only one which remained open to the public during the epidemic and helped slow the spread of the virus by raising awareness of preventative measures and good hygiene practices.

We are also working closely with the Ministry of Health to devise strategies for combatting the crisis.

Are sponsored children in danger?

All the children being raised in our village communities in the DRC are safe and we are taking precautions to ensure they, and children in the surrounding community, remain protected.  


You can help us be there for children in emergency situations around the world by donating to our emergency fund.

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