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Ebola virus disease - Democratic Republic of the Congo

Ebola virus disease - Democratic Republic of the Congo

The WHO first learned of the outbreak May 8, when Congo's Ministry of Health confirmed two cases of Ebola in the town of Bikoro, now the epicenter of the outbreak and located in the country's Equateur province, which has a population of about 2.5 million people. After that, vaccination of health care workers and people who have been in contact with cases will begin.

The WHO has received approval to use an experimental Ebola vaccine.

The World Health Organization said there have been 39 confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola over the past five weeks as the virus spreads across three rural areas covering almost 40 miles in the northwest part of the country.

World Health Organization said information about the outbreak in Bikoro, Iboko and Wangata in Equateur province is still limited and investigations are ongoing.

The WHO was widely criticised for reacting too slowly to the 2014-16 epidemic in West Africa.

Health experts said the deadly Ebola virus is transmitted to people through direct contact with wild animals and spreads through human-to-human transmission. The 393 close contacts now under surveillance for symptoms of Ebola would likely be the first recipients of the vaccine.

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Moeti said 362 contacts had been traced of those who had fallen sick - a necessary precursor to deploying the vaccines.

The WHO's Africa director said Sunday that the organization has 4,000 doses of V920 prepared "for deployment" in the DRC; Merck has an additional 300,000 doses available for use if needed.

"This is not a simple logistical effort; it's not like doing a polio campaign with oral polio vaccines, where we get it immediately out to the field".

A pioneering vaccine and rapid response could bring the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC's) latest Ebola outbreak under control, minimising the chances of it spreading to more populous areas, officials said. "It's a highly complex operation in one of the most hard terrains in the world". That work is vital both to encourage people to agree to be vaccinated and to figure out if any local practices are increasing the risk the virus will spread.

Personal protective equipment, body bags, boxes for transportation and interagency emergency health kits have been sent to the affected region. The epicenter, a town called Bikoro, is hard to reach by vehicle because of poor roads between it and the regional capital, Mbandaka.

This comes a week after the World Health Organisation confirmed an Ebola outbreak in different parts of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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