Ebola outbreak in the DRC

WHO gets approval to use Ebola vaccine in DRC

Congo first reported the outbreak, centred on the village of Ikoko Impenge, near the town of Bikoro, on Tuesday, with 32 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of the disease, including 18 deaths since April 4.

DRC has seen 18 deaths over the past five weeks, but Congolese authorities together with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other worldwide groups have now mobilized staff and resources to contain the virus.

The vaccine, which is called recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-Zaire Ebola virus (rVSV-ZEBOV) is still experimental, but according to WHO's website, it proved successful in a trial in Guinea in 2015. World Health Organization plans to deploy epidemiologists, logisticians, clinicians, infection prevention and control experts, risk communications experts and vaccination support teams in the coming days.

In the current outbreak, a total of 39 cases have been recorded, 29 of them in Bikoro, with a total of 19 deaths equaling a case fatality rate of 48.7 percent. According to researchers, the vaccine had an efficacy rate of 100 percent: Of the almost 6,000 patients vaccinated, all were declared Ebola-"free" after 10 days.

The ministry is considering deploying an experimental vaccine, which the government authorized during last year's outbreak but never used, Ilunga said. To date, 393 potential Ebola-carrying contacts have been identified and are being followed-up with.

The dreaded Ebola virus has resurfaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but the governments of Africa and the United Nations are now better equipped to deal with the disease before it again claims thousands of lives.

A pioneering vaccine and rapid response could bring the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC's) latest Ebola outbreak under control, minimising the chances of it spreading to more populous areas, officials said.

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WHO says it will be working with the ministry of health, Gavi and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to conduct ring vaccinations in the affected health zones. According to Jašarević, this is the ninth Ebola outbreak in DRC and that it is "endemic" to the country.

"We are well aware of the outbreak in some parts of our neighbours, as the World Health Organisation reported".

But it's still very worrisome, said Dr. Peter Salama, WHO's deputy director general for emergency preparedness and response. "We do not have many travelers from DRC as the majority are from Nigeria", he said.

Scientists fear it may be a "public-health emergency" after an Ebola pandemic killed at least 11,000 when it decimated West Africa between 2014 and 2016.

"We are very concerned and we are planning for all scenarios, including the worst-case scenario", Salama said. On average, about 50% of people who become ill with Ebola die.

Ebola viruses probably spread in bats most of the time, but they do occasionally "jump" to other species such as deer, monkeys or humans.

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