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World Health Organization to administer experimental Ebola vaccines in the Congo

17 May 2018

Last week, the Democratic Republic of the Congo declared a new Ebola virus disease outbreak, confirming two laboratory-tested cases.

"We must situate the index case in each site to see if the cases are linked or if they are separate epidemics", said Muyembe, who was in the team that researched the first recorded Ebola outbreak.

The WHO director-general and Dr. Peter Salama, his deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, flew to the DRC on Friday for meetings with government officials. This would be the ninth known Ebola outbreak to strike DRC, including one that involved five confirmed cases past year.

"This is an experimental vaccine, not a licensed product, and there are a lot of complications", including ensuring it is stored at the correct temperature, Salama said. Three healthcare workers are reportedly also sickened with the disease.

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Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries are on high alert over risk of the ongoing Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) spreading to their territories.

The worst Ebola epidemic in history ended in West Africa just two years ago after killing more than 11,300 people and infected some 28,600 as it rolled through Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The vaccine, which is called recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-Zaire Ebola virus (rVSV-ZEBOV) is still experimental, but according to WHO's website, it proved successful in a trial in Guinea in 2015. However, the proximity of the affected area to the Congo River, which links to the Republic of the Congo and the Central African Republic, increases the risk of cases occurring in neighboring countries.

Ghebreyesus said that the organisation and its partners were also working with national health authorities to contain the Ebola outbreak in DR Congo. The infection is transmitted by direct contact with the blood, body fluids, and tissues of infected animals or people.

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It said 393 people who identified as contacts of Ebola patients were being investigated.

The vaccine was developed by the Canadian government and is now licensed to the USA -based Merck. CFRs typically hover around 50 percent, although children under the age of 5 are much more likely to die as a result of exposure to the virus.

Ebola viruses probably spread in bats most of the time, but they do occasionally "jump" to other species such as deer, monkeys or humans. We probably won't know for sure what went wrong in this outbreak, but blame has been placed on the slow response of the global community, the fragility of the region's health services, and the failure of public health campaigns to reach all people. "All suspected cases are not necessarily cases of Ebola".

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World Health Organization to administer experimental Ebola vaccines in the Congo