WHO To Send Ebola Vaccine To DR Congo

WHO To Send Ebola Vaccine To DR Congo

The aim is for health officials to start using the vaccine, once it's shipped, by the end of the week, or next week if there are difficulties, said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

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.

Ebola virus disease, or EVD, is a deadly disease that mostly affects people and non-human primates - such as monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees.

WHO says it will be working with the ministry of health, Gavi and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) to conduct ring vaccinations in the affected health zones.

Only 2 cases have been confirmed by laboratory testing, and 25 are probable. "All is ready now to really use it", he said, adding that the Congolese government deserved praise for its response to the outbreak. In those three countries, there were an estimated 28 610 cases and 11 308 deaths during the outbreak. 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.

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The current outbreak is in a relatively remote area, with poor roads that both slow transmission and slow the access of responders as well.

Congolese authorities and global organizations including the WHO, Red Cross, the US Center for Disease Control and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) are already involved in the operation and have pledged their support to the DRC government. The organization deployed 50 health officers over the weekend to assist the DRC in outbreak measures. Based on current estimates, the World Health Organization said the DRC will likely require $18 million U.S. for a 3-month operation.

The virus which is transmitted by bats was first discovered in DRC in 1976 and named after the Ebola river.

The vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical giant Merck, was tested during the Ebola crisis in Guinea and is the most effective one produced thus far. The 393 close contacts now under surveillance for symptoms of Ebola would likely be the first recipients of the vaccine.

The Ebola virus is highly contagious and causes a range of symptoms including fever, vomiting, diarrhea, generalized pain or malaise and in many cases internal and external bleeding.