Congo health ministry reports first death in Ebola outbreak

Congo health ministry reports first death in Ebola outbreak

Congo health ministry reports first death in Ebola outbreak

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it hoped to deploy an experimental vaccine to tackle the outbreak before it spread from remote settlements to Mbandaka, the largest city in the north-west of the DRC.

Two of the neighboring countries - the Central African Republic (CAR) and the Republic of Congo - have "a slightly higher level of risk" due to their river-based links to DRC, Salama said.

Congo reported the outbreak on Tuesday, with 32 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of the disease since April 4, including 18 deaths. By the time the outbreak was finally contained, more than 11,000 people had died.

WHO Deputy Director-General of Emergency Preparedness and Response Peter Salam made the announcement today. However, the disease is not as gruesome as has sometimes been reported (body organs don't liquiefy), which makes it hard to figure out what's Ebola and what's not. In this case, the vaccine's deployment is meant to assist health-care workers in ending the outbreak long before it has the possibility of turning into an epidemic.

"We will gather more samples, conduct contact tracing, engage the communities with messages on prevention and control, and put in place methods for improving data collection and sharing", said Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO's regional director for Africa.

Both confirmed Ebola cases came from the iIkoko Iponge health facility located about 30 kilometers from Bikoro.

To date, the outbreak is reported in a remote area and appears to be geographically limited.

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.

Pierre Formenty, DVM, MPH, a WHO Ebola expert, told reporters that investigators already know funeral transmission has been an issue in the current outbreak and that anthropology experts, who help navigate cultural issues in outbreak settings, are among the first wave of the surge of WHO experts responding. Salama said that, fortunately, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance has already agreed to pay for the vaccine, and the World Health Organization has part of the stockpile in Geneva ready to deploy. On average, about 50% of people who become ill with Ebola die. A new experimental vaccine has been shown to be highly effective against the virus, though quantities are now limited.

The virus spreads through direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person or even a primate or fruit bat.

The deadly hemorrhagic disease Ebola, which killed thousands during 2014 to 2016 West African outbreak, has resurfaced again.

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