Experimental Ebola Vaccine May Help Halt New Outbreak In Congo

Mass vaccination not enough to prevent Ebola outbreak

From 4 April through 9 May 2018, a total of 32 Ebola virus disease cases (among which two are confirmed, 18 probable and 12 suspected cases) were reported from Bikoro health zone, Equateur province, including 18 deaths.

"We are very concerned and planning for all scenarios, including the worst case scenario", Mr Salama said.

This is the ninth time Ebola has been recorded in the Democratic Republic of Congo since the deadly hemorrhagic fever was first detected in the country's dense tropical forests in 1976.

"WHO and its partners including MSF, World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Congolese Red Cross, UNOCHA and MONUSCO, US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US-CDC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), are all stepping up their support".

17 people are reported to have died from the latest outbreak in the town since December past year, according to the country's health ministry.

It was reported that on May 30, 2017, the regulatory and ethics-review boards in the DRC approved the use of an experimental Ebola vaccine to combat the disease.

This outbreak started back in December, about 20 miles from Bikoro, in Equateur province. Eighteen people died as of Friday, including a nurse.

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However, nine surrounding countries are on "high alert" for the virus, especially neighboring Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

World Health Organization and DRC also now monitor for signs that may indicate that the infectious disease is spreading to other areas.

But the villages at the heart of this outbreak are close to the banks of the Congo River, a major artery for trade and transport upstream from the capital Kinshasa.

"My ministry established the National Health Emergencies Council to work expeditiously to prevent importation of any virus or disease".

"We will also ensure we step up all activities screening people coming in so that we will not be caught unawares", said health minister, Isaac Adewole. The virus is also spread through sexual contact.

"We started well, and now we need to continue well, and we'll need the support of the entire global community for this response", he said. "A standby ambulance with a driver and relevant protective gear has been provided by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and is available twenty four-seven", Dr Mwebesa said in a press statement.

The VSV-EBOV vaccine, developed in Canada and licensed by NewLink Genetics and Merck, was shown to be highly effective in a ring vaccination trial in Guinea during West Africa's outbreak.

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