South Sudan on alert as Ebola outbreak reported in Congo

Experimental vaccine approved for use against Ebola virus in CongoSHARE:sharetweetshareemail

Experimental vaccine approved for use against Ebola virus in CongoSHARE:sharetweetshareemail

The outbreak, which is believed to have started several weeks ago, was officially declared on May 8 after the DRC health ministry's laboratory confirmed two positive tests from among a number of suspected Ebola cases in the western part of the country. "It's a targeted vaccination for people who are identified as possible contacts of people who have been infected", Tari Jasarevic, a World Health Organization spokesperson, told DW.

Finally, News Agency of Nigeria reported that a passenger at Uganda's Entebbe International Airport is being held in isolation in an Entebbe hospital after showing some symptoms of Ebola virus disease. Health officials are following up with almost 400 people identified as contacts of Ebola patients. Three health care workers are believed to have been infected, one of whom has died.

But, since the 2014-16 outbreak, other countries have had Ebola outbreaks, which many people may not have heard about. It said that at present the outbreak does not meet the criteria for declaring a "public health event of global concern", which would trigger the formation of an emergency WHO committee. Cases were reported from the Bikoro health zone (n=29; two confirmed, 20 probable and 7 suspected cases), Iboko health zone (n=8; three probable and five suspected cases) and Wangata health zone (n=2; two probable cases).

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It's the ninth Ebola outbreak in the DRC since the virus was first discovered there in 1976, when the country was named Zaire.

We are working with our partners to send more staff, equipment and supplies to the area,"said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom, who travelled to the DRC over the week-end". There is no specific treatment for the virus, and it can prove fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.

Tedros led a WHO delegation that included Matshidiso Moeti, MD, WHO regional director for Africa, and Peter Salama, MD, WHO deputy director-general, emergency preparedness and response. "That's our plan. And so far, things are going as planned", he said.

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The ministry is considering deploying an experimental vaccine, which the government authorized during last year's outbreak but never used, Ilunga said.

The Bikoro area, where the outbreak is centered, borders the neighboring Republic of the Congo and the Congo River, the region's main trade route.

Health officials suspect that the high case fatality rate means there may be more Ebola cases already out there, and that this outbreak could have been simmering undetected for some time.

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Ebola is a viral hemorrhagic fever that predominantly affects humans and nonhuman primates, like monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees, according to the CDC. The virus can also be spread through contact with objects contaminated by infected persons as well as direct contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected fruit bats or primates.

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