Ebola-Zaire confirmed in DRC outbreak that killed 3

Henrietta Brewer
May 15, 2017

Minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, has called for heightened vigilance and intensified awareness efforts on symptoms of hemorrhagic fevers following the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Eleven other cases are suspected in the area.

The first Ebola outbreaks took place in 1976, when two simultaneous outbreaks were discovered in isolated areas of Congo and South Sudan.

The virus is fatal in up to 90% of cases, and the World Health Organization recently developed an experimental vaccine for use in emergencies.

The vaccine was tested in a trial involving almost 12,000 people in Guinea and Sierra Leone during 2015 and 2016.

"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.

Congo Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said nine possible Ebola infections were detected. In 2014, the country controlled an outbreak in the Boende region, another remote part of the country. There have been seven outbreaks in the country since, the most recent in 2014, which killed 49 people.

According to World Health Organization, 9 suspected cases of Ebola have been reported in the Likati district since April 22, 2017, and 3 deaths are said to be attributed to the virus.

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.

Liberia was the last of those states to be declared clear in January 2016.

In 2015, during the waning months of the West African epidemic, the experimental vaccine was given to about 5,800 people in Guinea who had had close contact with new Ebola patients, along with the contacts of those contacts.

The vaccine, designed by scientists at Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory, is being developed by the pharmaceutical giant Merck. "It's very unusual to have a vaccine that protects people perfectly". More than 28,600 people were infected and more than 11,300 died.

One of the most urgent steps that should be taken is a vibrant revitalisation of the public enlightenment campaign that was so useful in alerting the public of the deadly nature of the disease the other time.

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