Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Health | By Jay Jacobs

More suspected Ebola cases in Congo

More suspected Ebola cases in Congo

A team of 10 people from the Ministry of Health will join them.

"Strong measures have been taken to control the outbreak by the DRC government with the World Health Organization and other partners' support", said Mr Kabambi who serves as WHO's Emergency Communications Officer.

It's clear why: The Ebola epidemic that hit West Africa in 2014 killed more than 11,300 people before the World Health Organization finally declared the region Ebola-free past year.

The new Congolese outbreak is in a remote region, far from the big cities where Ebola spreads more easily.

"As this is the eighth epidemic [of Ebola] that we are facing as a nation, we should not be rattled", the health minister said.

The minister directed all health workers to maintain a high index of suspicion, by screening all fevers for Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers.

The last Ebola outbreak in the DRC occurred in 2014 and left 40 people dead. But on 27 April, the WHO's advisory group on immunization recommended that an experimental vaccine called rVSV-SEBOV be deployed promptly should an Ebola outbreak arise.

"We were able to estimate the efficacy of the vaccine as being 100 percent in a trial", Ira Longini, a biostatistician at the University of Florida, told NPR's Michaeleen Doucleff last December.

The vaccine, designed by scientists at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory, is being developed by the pharmaceutical giant Merck.

Ebola can be caught from both humans and animals. It peaked in late 2014 causing global alarm and claiming more than 40 lives in the DRC alone but active virus transmission ended previous year.

But some questions about the vaccine still remain. "People are constantly coming and going across the border to visit friends and family, so we are taking very urgent preventative measures to contain the risk".

There are now 12 candidate Ebola vaccines in development.

'So, there is no cause for alarm, ' she said.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, would arrive in Kinshasa this weekend to attend a coordination meeting of the national committee at the Ministry of Health to deal with this emergency and ensure that WHO provides all necessary assistance to the DRC.

In some cases, it took several days of regular visits by doctors and community leaders before the vaccine was accepted by the families of those who had been infected by the Ebola virus.

The Zaire strain of the virus is one of the most lethal.

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