DR Congo Ebola outbreak reaches 300 cases

Henrietta Brewer
November 9, 2018

The vaccination programme launches on Wednesday with support from the World Health Organization, targeting 2,000 frontline workers in districts close to DRC's North Kivu province, which is now experiencing an outbreak of the deadly virus.

Some sick people have refused to go to treatment centres, health-care workers are still being infected, and some people are dying of Ebola or spreading the virus to new areas.

The death from Ebola of a young Ugandan physician in 2000, one of more than 200 people killed in that outbreak, sparked a national outpouring of grief and helped spread awareness of how Ebola is transmitted.

It is highly likely that Uganda may import EVD from DRC given the closeness of the current epicenter, the high population movements due to trade, social-cultural connections and easy accessibility of health services in Uganda.

Healthcare workers in Uganda have begun vaccinating high risk health workers against the deadly viral infection Ebola this week.

Uganda is the first country in the world to give the vaccine without an active outbreak of the disease, but is judged to be at very high risk.

Officials fear the epidemic will spread from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo and are implementing the plan so healthcare workers don't catch the virus and spread it.

At least 300 suspected cases have been reported in the DRC in the latest outbreak, with 265 confirmed.

The World Health Organization, CDC and other worldwide health organizations say they are anxious about the current Ebola outbreak spreading to port cities like Butembo, which will only exacerbate infection transmission rates.

The spread of Ebola in the DRC is worsened by an ongoing civil war between militant groups and government forces.

If that happens, health-care responders may need to consider vaccinating broader populations instead of the current strategy of vaccinating people who have been in contact with infected people.

"It is first and foremost the work of a very close-knit team comprised of WHO, MONUSCO and other agencies with the DRC government authorities who are very mobilised", he said. Dr Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the World Health Organization representative in Uganda, said the vaccine is safe with an efficacy level of 90 per cent and starts working within 10 days from the time it's administered.

This preventive exercise has begun in the Ntoroko district which is located in central Africa.

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