Ebola outbreak kills 19 in DR Congo

Ebola outbreak kills 19 in DR Congo

The latest outbreak is occurring in the northwest of country, in the Bikoro health zone, 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) from Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province.

Any other persons with potential exposure to Ebola, such as laboratory workers, surveillance and contact teams, will also be vaccinated. According to WHO's Spokesperson, Tarik Jašarević, there have been 39 reported Ebola cases from April 4 through May 13.

WHO said that the Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is coordinating the response, and WHO is working with the agency. More than 11,000 of those infected by the virus died, and case fatality rates (CFR) ranged anywhere from 50 to 70 percent, depending on the study, although some health experts believe the percentage may have been slightly lower.

The Ebola vaccination campaign will first target health workers, Ilunga said.

"I am impressed by the strong leadership the Government of DR Congo showed in the response to this outbreak from day one", said Tedros.

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The WHO says the vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, has been been tested in thousands of volunteers in Europe, Africa and the United States and was judged safe for humans. The virus is then passed between humans through blood or bodily fluids, like saliva, sweat, urine, semen, or breast milk. The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. Early symptoms of the virus can appear two to 21 days after infection and include fever, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. If the disease is not treated, the symptoms will escalate to vomiting, diarrhea, and external or internal bleeding. In some cases the virus can lead to death.

Earlier, the World Health Organization confirmed 19 deaths in DRC following an outbreak of Ebola between April 4 and May 13. The remaining 12 cases are suspected.

Nineteen deaths were also reported in the region. According to Jašarević, this is the ninth Ebola outbreak in DRC and that it is "endemic" to the country.

WHO officials noted that the outbreak is now rated a "high" public health risk at the national level, "moderate" at the regional level, and "low" risk at the global level, with assessments ongoing.

For now, the World Health Organization has listed the risks to surrounding countries as moderate, and has already alerted those countries and is working with them on border surveillance and preparedness for potential outbreaks.

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