They call her the “young miracle”. A baby who was admitted to an Ebola treatment centre just six days after birth is now recovered from the virus.
Democratic Republic of Congo’s health ministry calls the baby the youngest survivor in what is now the world’s second-deadliest Ebola outbreak.
The ministry late on Thursday tweeted a photo of the infant, swaddled and with tiny mouth open in yawn or squall, surrounded by caregivers who watched over her 24 hours a day for weeks.
The baby’s mother, who had Ebola, died in childbirth, the ministry said.
The infant was discharged from the treatment center in Beni on Wednesday.
“She went home in the arms of her father and her aunt,” the ministry said.
Experts have reported worryingly high numbers of children with Ebola in this outbreak, which DRC’s health ministry says now has 515 cases, 467 of them confirmed, including 255 confirmed deaths.
Children now account for more than one-third of all cases, Unicef said earlier this week. One in 10 Ebola cases is in a child under 5 years old, it said, and children who contract the hemorrhagic fever are at greater risk of dying than adults.
While Ebola typically infects adults, as they are most likely to be exposed to the lethal virus, children have been known in some instances to catch the disease when they act as caregivers.
Few cases of Ebola in babies have historically been reported, but experts suspect transmission might happen via breast milk or close contact with infected parents. Ebola is typically spread by infected bodily fluids.
The World Health Organisation also has noted that health centers have been identified as a source of Ebola transmission in this outbreak, with injections of medications “a notable cause.”
So far, more than 400 children have been left orphaned or unaccompanied in this outbreak as patients can spend weeks in treatment centers, Unicef said. A kindergarten has opened next to one treatment center in Beni “to assist the youngest children whose parents are isolated” there, it said.
Health expert have said this Ebola outbreak, the 10th in Congo, is like no other as they face the threat of attack from armed groups and resistance from a wary population in a region that had never faced an Ebola outbreak before. Tracking suspected contacts of Ebola victims remains a challenge in areas controlled by rebels.
The latest WHO assessment, released Thursday, simply calls the circumstances “unforgiving.”
And now, DRC is set to hold a presidential election on December 23, with unrest already brewing .