Experimental Vaccine Will be Used against Ebola Outbreak in the DRC

Ebola Victim in Africa

Ebola Victim in Africa

Since the publication of the first Disease Outbreak News on the Ebola outbreak in Equateur province, Democratic Republic of the Congo on 10 May 2018, an additional seven suspected cases have been notified by the country's Ministry of Health.

"The WHO is strengthening its presence, positioning a dozen epidemiologists who will be divided on the axes of Mbandaka, Bikoro and Iboko to investigate alerts", its Congo representative, Allarangar Yokouide, said.

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.

Of the 39 cases of Ebola reported since April 5, two have been confirmed using laboratory tests.

"Because it is an experimental vaccine, there are several steps to observe", Jasarevik said.

Three health care workers are among those who have been infected.

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At present, this event does not meet the criteria of a public heath event of worldwide concern as defined in the IHR (2005), and does not warrant the convening of an Emergency Committee under the IHR (2005).

Health experts said the deadly Ebola virus is transmitted to people through direct contact with wild animals and spreads through human-to-human transmission. That outbreak was later traced back to a single case in Meliandou, Guinea in late December 2013, where an 18-month-old boy died two days after developing flu-like symptoms.

To the south is the DRC capital, Kinshasa (population 11.5 million), as well as Brazzaville (population 1.9 million), the capital of the neighboring Republic of the Congo. In 2014-2016, the disease plagued West Africa leaving countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia with more cases and deaths from the virus than they ever had. The organization deployed 50 health officers over the weekend to assist the DRC in outbreak measures.

The UN agency is working with the country's Ministry of Health and worldwide nongovernmental organization M-decins Sans Fronti-res to conduct ring vaccinations across the affected region, where contacts of those infected, followed by contacts of those contacts, would all be vaccinated.

There is no current vaccine to prevent Ebola or licensed treatment for it, although a range of experimental drugs is in development. Fortunately, the DRC, which has had more Ebola outbreaks than any other country, has developed effective ways of controlling the virus. The virus spreads through bodily fluids, including vomit and blood.

"At present", the agency added, "this event does not meet the criteria of a public health event of global concern".

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