* 90 killed since outbreak started in July
* First confirmed death recorded in key trading hub last week
* Logistical challenges hamper disease control efforts
When Esperance Nzavaki heard she was cured of Ebola after three weeks of cutting-edge care at a medical centre in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, she raised her arms to the sky with joy and praised the Lord.
Her recovery is testament to the effectiveness of a new treatment, which isolates patients in futuristic cube-shaped mobile units with transparent walls and gloved access, so health workers no longer need to don cumbersome protective gear.
"I started to feel sick, with a fever and pain all over my body. I thought it was typhoid. I took medicine but it didn't work," Nzavaki told Reuters in Beni, a city of several hundred thousand, where officials are racing to contain the virus.
"Then an ambulance came and brought me to hospital for Ebola treatment. Now I praise God I'm healed."
The fight against Ebola has advanced more in recent years than in any since it was discovered near the Congo River in 1976. When the worst outbreak killed 11,300 people in West Africa in 2013-2016, there was no vaccine and treatment amounted to little more than keeping patients comfortable and hydrated.
Now there's an experimental vaccine manufactured by Merck which already this year helped quash an earlier outbreak of this strain of the virus on the other side of the country in under three months. And there are the cube treatment centres, pioneered by the Senegal-based medical charity, ALIMA.
"With this system ... where there are not people donning masks, the patients feel reassured and perceive that there is life here," said Claude Mahoudeau, ALIMA's coordinator for the Ebola outbreak in Beni.
In addition, three experimental treatments have been rolled out for the first time, offering patients additional reason to hope that their diagnosis is not a death sentence.
Yet even the smartest science can do little about the marauding rebel groups and widespread fear and mistrust that could yet scupper efforts to contain Congo's tenth outbreak of the deadly haemorrhagic fever.
The latest outbreak is so far believed to have killed 90 people since July and infected another 40.
The stakes are high, not just for health reasons. Ebola could complicate Congo's first democratic change of power, the holding of a Dec. 23 election to replace President Joseph Kabila that is already two years late.
Rebellion, fear, mistrust
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