New Ebola Cases, Deaths Reported in Congo

Christopher Davidson
May 23, 2018

Guillaume Ngoie Mwamba, director of the Expanded Program on Immunization, was the first Congolese to receive the vaccine in Mbandaka.

The current toll is 49 cases, comprising 22 confirmed by laboratory tests, 21 probable cases and six suspected cases, Mr Ilunga said.

Some 7,500 doses of the vaccine are now available in Congo, WHO said on Monday, with an additional 8,000 doses available in the coming days, according to the Associated Press.

Vaccination against Ebola has begun in DR Congo where recent cases of the deadly virus resurfaced after a major outbreak in 2014.

USAID has a long history of engagement in the health sector in the DRC and has supported yearly response efforts for infectious and vaccine preventable disease outbreaks, including Ebola in 2015 and 2017, yellow fever in 2016, and polio, measles, and cholera in 2017.

Dozens of health workers in the northwestern provincial capital, Mbandaka, have received vaccinations amid expectations that some will be deployed to the rural epicenter of the epidemic.

Although the vaccine, provided by the USA pharmaceutical company Merck, is still in the test stages, it proved effective in the last Ebola outbreak in Africa that killed more than 11,000 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia between 2014 and 2016.

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

Guinean experts are at the forefront of the vaccination campaign in DR Congo, where the Ebola virus disease was first isolated in 1976 and is now in its ninth outbreak.

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.

"Staff and volunteers are promoting accurate and timely information that helps people to take precautions and reduce their risk of contracting or transmitting the virus", Overcamp told CNA.

Despite the growing number of Ebola victims within DRC, Overcamp said her past experience has shown her that global collaboration can effectively overcome a unsafe outbreak. "It is spread via contact with bodily fluids of those infected". The virus has twice made it to Kinshasa, Congo's capital of 10 million people, but was effectively contained. These include fever, headache, muscle pain, weakness and fatigue and become more serious - diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained bleeding or bruising.

Yet a "substantial percentage of participants harbored misconceptions" about transmission and treatments, the authors wrote in their report, with half of respondents believing Ebola is transmitted by mosquitoes or through the air.

Ebola has about a 90 percent fatality rate, depending on the strain, according to AP.

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