Congo Ebola outbreak: Nurse becomes 27th victim to die from deadly virus

  • Congo Ebola outbreak: Nurse becomes 27th victim to die from deadly virus

Congo Ebola outbreak: Nurse becomes 27th victim to die from deadly virus

Dr. Guyauma Ngoyi Mwamba, centre, representative of the Democratic Republic of Congo on Expanded Program on Immunization, is administered with a vaccine during a vaccination campaign in Mbandaka, Congo Monday, May 21, 2018.

Experts who have studied the Ebola virus since its discovery in 1976 along the Ebola river in Congo, then Zaire, say its suspected origin is forest bats.

More than 7,500 doses are available in Congo, WHO said Monday, adding that an additional 8,000 doses will be available in the coming days. It has yet to be officially licensed, but authorities have obtained special permission to use it in the latest outbreak. The six new confirmed cases were in the rural Iboko health zone, it said.

Speaking on how much difference the vaccine will make towards improving the situation, the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said, "Vaccination will be key to controlling this outbreak".

Unlike the site of the first reported cases, Bikoro, which is a small village over 10 hours by vehicle from the nearest airfield, Mbandaka has a population of more than 1 million people perched on the Congo River.

Health workers and other frontline responders will be among the first to be vaccinated, following the death of a nurse over the weekend.

Hundreds of people have been in contact with infected people and are being monitored, and they are candidates for the first round of an experimental vaccination campaign that began this week. It's using the still-unlicensed rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine that was trialed successfully in Guinea in 2015 during a major outbreak in parts of West Africa that killed more than 11,000 people.

14 2014 shows Medecins Sans Frontieres medical staff wearing protective clothing treating the body of an Ebola victim at their facility in Kailahun
AFP 2018 Carl de Souza Three New Ebola Cases Confirmed by Congo Health Ministry as Outbreak Spreads

Congo President Joseph Kabila and his Cabinet agreed Saturday to increase funds for the Ebola emergency to more than $4 million.

Together with his cabinet, he also approved the provision of free healthcare services in the affected areas and specialised care to survivors and their families.

The Ebola virus is transmitted to humans from animals and is estimated by the World Health Organization to have a 50-percent fatality rate.

In addition, USAID is coordinating with the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization, and partners on the ground on response efforts, and contributing to situational reports, and field activities.

"The risk of spreading within the country and to neighbouring nations remains real", said Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The virus has twice made it to Kinshasa, Congo's capital of 10 million people, but was effectively contained. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola. The virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain.