Ebola vaccines to be shipped to Congo, WHO chief says

FAAN assures of preparedness

Worldwide health agencies are acting fast to contain a confirmed Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

As of 11 May 2018, there are a total of 34 cases, with 18 deaths (case fatality rate 52.9%), among which two cases are confirmed, 14 suspected and 18 probable.

Democratic Republic of Congo's health ministry said it had dispatched a team of 12 experts to the northwest to try to trace new contacts of the disease, identify the epicentre and all affected villages and provide resources.

The World Health Organization (WHO), Médecins Sans Frontières, and Provincial Division of Health have traveled to Bikoro in an effort to stem the outbreak.

The largest Ebola outbreak took place in West Africa in 2014-2015, with more than 11,000 people dead and some 28,000 cases having been reported.

As for the risk, Salama said World Health Organization was especially concerned about the near-term spread of the disease, including to Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province, which has around one million inhabitants and is only a few hours away from Bikoro.

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Of the suspected cases, at least 18 people are thought to have died from the disease, whose initial symptoms include a fever, sore throat and muscular pain. We don't know what causes these species jumps, which makes predicting Ebola outbreaks nearly impossible. WHO will also work with national authorities in planning further public health measures such as vaccination campaigns.

"We have mobilized volunteers and staff who have previous experience in fighting Ebola to work with the affected communities to prevent further spread of the disease", said Grégoire Mateso, President of the DRC Red Cross.

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

Officials are concerned about the virus reaching Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province, Medical Xpress reported.

However, research by Kent University suggests a drive to vaccinate the entire population wouldn't be an effective way of stopping the disease spread.

The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. Screening had been stepped up since the latest outbreak in Congo. They will also receive a leaflet with information about Ebola and contact numbers of the surveillance officers. The virus killed at least 11,000 people across six countries, including a single fatality in the U.S. The worldwide response to that crisis was criticised for moving too slowly, prompting an apology from the WHO.

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