Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Culture&Arts | By Dora Pope

World Health Organization gets approval to use Ebola vaccine in DRC

World Health Organization gets approval to use Ebola vaccine in DRC

"If you have 18 of [34] cases that are fatal, that tells me we don't know how big the iceberg is - that there's more that have not been detected yet", said Daniel Bausch, the director of the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team, who has been advising on the outbreak response.

Ebola typically spreads through contact with bodily fluids, such as blood or sweat from infected persons or animals.

Congo's nine neighbours have been put on high alert in case Ebola crosses a border, especially to Republic of Congo or Central African Republic. By May 7, a number of these cases tested positive for the Ebola virus at laboratory facilities of the Institute National de Recherche Biomedicale.

The WHO has acknowledged its bungled handling of the massive outbreak, saying it failed to recognize early that the West African countries that severely lacked health infrastructures were at imminent risk.

In Congo, vaccines will also be administered to local and global health care workers and front-line workers in both affected areas as well as the regions expected to be at risk should the outbreak continue to spread.

There is no current vaccine to prevent Ebola or licensed treatment for it.

Anyone receiving the vaccine will then be checked three, 14, 21, 42, 63 and 84 days later.

Moeti said 362 contacts had been traced of those who had fallen sick - a necessary precursor to deploying the vaccines. He also confirmed that the government of the DRC has formally asked to use an experimental vaccine being developed by Merck.

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Ebola is one of the world's most notorious diseases, being both highly infectious and extremely lethal.

The regions affected by the outbreak, however, abut larger cities capable of spreading the virus much more quickly, including the port city of Mbandaka, which has a population of 1.2 million and sits directly along the Congo River, a major economic lifeline.

Akinwumi said there was no need to panic over the friendly match, adding: "We will not jeopardise the health of Nigerians".

Ebola virus disease, which most commonly affects people and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees), is caused by one of five Ebola viruses.

Elsewhere in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Direct Relief is also supporting the efforts of Save the Children to respond to the needs of displaced people, and continues to be in dialogue with Congolese health authorities in terms of where best to meet health needs throughout the country.

The Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is coordinating the response. Bikoro hospital has sealed off a ward to diagnose suspected Ebola patients and provide treatment, according to UNICEF.

According to the World Health Organization, between April 4 and May 13, a total of 39 Ebola virus disease cases have been reported, including 19 deaths.

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