Experimental Ebola vaccine to be used in Congo's outbreak, World Health Organization head says

16 May, 2018, 11:38 | Author: Rafael Roberts
  • Ebola Victim in Africa

It's thought 4,000 doses will be sent to the remote north-western province of Equateur.

"The WHO is strengthening its presence, positioning a dozen epidemiologists who will be divided on the axes of Mbandaka, Bikoro and Iboko to investigate alerts", its Congo representative, Allarangar Yokouide, said.

Among humans, the commonest form of infection is through close contact with the blood, body fluids, secretions or organs of someone who is sick with Ebola or has recently died. So far, 19 people have died of the highly-contagious hemorrhagic fever and another 39 cases are suspected.

The plan is to employ a ring vaccination approach, vaccinating anyone who has been in contact with a case to prevent continuing spread of the virus.

"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", the World Health Organization said in today's outbreak update. The 393 close contacts now under surveillance for symptoms of Ebola would likely be the first recipients of the vaccine.

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

But the vaccine is still experimental as it does not have a licence.

Ebola was first identified in 1976 by a team led by a young Belgian microbiologist, Peter Piot, who later founded UNAIDS, the United Nations' spearhead agency against HIV/AIDS.

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Yesterday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, MD, traveled to the DRC, and he tweeted about visiting a hospital in Bikoro and observing the outbreak response.

Transporting the vaccines to the affected area would be logistically challenging. "This is a highly complex sophisticated operation in one of the most hard terrains on Earth", Salama said.

But this epidemic's proximity to the Congo River, a major transport route and lifeline both to Congo's capital, Kinshasa, and to neighbouring Congo Republic's capital, Brazzaville, makes it more likely the virus could break out into a wider area.

"We know what we need to do, but we must do it quickly", Fall said.

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

The virus' natural reservoir animal is probably the bat, which does not itself fall ill, but can pass the microbe on to humans who hunt it for food.

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.

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