Ebola virus disease - Democratic Republic of the Congo

Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki /FILE

Congo first reported the outbreak, centred on the village of Ikoko Impenge, near the town of Bikoro, on Tuesday, with 32 suspected, probable or confirmed cases of the disease, including 18 deaths since April 4.

The shot, which was tested in Guinea in 2015 at the end of a vast Ebola outbreak in West Africa, is designed for use in a so-called "ring vaccination" approach.

M-decins Sans Fronti-res has set up four five-bed mobile isolation units to increase the hospital bed capacity in Bikoro, which is now 15 beds. A person becomes infected after making contact with an infected animal, such as a fruit bat or primate. Three health care workers are among the cases and one has died.

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.

"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.

It said in a statement that 393 people who identified as contacts of Ebola patients are being followed up. Tedros met with the president of the DRC, Joseph Kabila, and the minister of health, Oly Ilunga Kalenga, MD, to review the steps taken so far. "In Bikoro I saw first-hand the efforts the national health authorities and all our partners are investing in rapidly establishing the key elements of Ebola containment".

The World Health Organisation obtained 4,000 doses of an experimental Ebola vaccine and was preparing for deployment in Congo, its Africa director, Matshidiso Moeti, told Reuters by telephone on Sunday.

The vaccine was developed by the Canadian government and its production has been licensed to Merck in the U.S. Although it was designed and found to be highly effective for a different strain of the virus, it is still considered to be safe and effective.

"We already have three separate locations that are reporting cases", said the WHO's deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, Peter Salama. At this stage, it can also only be used in the context of a clinical trial-plans for which are already in the works.

By the time the Ebola outbreak was recognized in Guinea in March 2014, almost 60 people had already died. The virus spreads through bodily fluids, including vomit and blood.

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