WHO Reports 19 Dead, 39 Infected in Congo Ebola Outbreak

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In 2014-2016, the disease plagued West Africa leaving countries such as Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia with more cases and deaths from the virus than they ever had.

In contrast to West Africa, which had little prior contact with the virus, DRC is the country in which Ebola was discovered in 1976.

It's the ninth recorded outbreak in the central African nation that last battled the disease in 2017.

According to WHO, Ebola is a haemorrhagic fever that is spread through direct human-to-human contact.

The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50 percent.

By the time the Ebola outbreak was recognized in Guinea in March 2014, almost 60 people had already died.

The WHO has deployed 50 public health experts to support the health ministry of the DRC with response activities.

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The current outbreak's proximity to significant trade and population centers has authorities concerned.

"We have agreement, registration, plus import permit, everything formally agreed already", Tedros said.

The UN agency is working with the country's Ministry of Health and worldwide nongovernmental organization M-decins Sans Fronti-res to conduct ring vaccinations across the affected region, where contacts of those infected, followed by contacts of those contacts, would all be vaccinated. It is also located 150 kilometers (93 miles) from the large regional capital, Mbandaka. The affected area is remote with limited communication and poor transportation infrastructure. The UN's World Food Program (WFP) has therefore facilitated an air bridge consisting of daily flights to transport staff, food and supplies to the region. The vaccine could arrive in Kinshasa as early as Tuesday, WHO spokesman Eugene Kabambi said.

Last week, Peter Salama, deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response at the World Health Organization, pointed out that use of the vaccine comes with many challenges, as it needs to be stored long-term at temperatures between minus 60 and minus 80 degrees Celsius (minus 76 to minus 112 Fahrenheit).

The vaccine, developed by pharmaceutical giant Merck, was tested during the Ebola crisis in Guinea and is the most effective one produced thus far. People who received the vaccine did not get infected 10 or days more after receiving it, while there were 23 Ebola cases reported in the same time frame among individuals who did not receive the vaccine. It must be kept at -60 to -80 degrees Celsius (-76°F to -112°F), creating huge logistical challenges.

He praised the Congolese government, including President Joseph Kabila whom he met during his trip. Mobile laboratories arrived in Bikoro on May 12 and have started testing suspected carriers.

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