Ebola outbreak in Congo spread from countryside into city

Ebola Profile of a dreaded killer

Thousands of doses of Ebola vaccine have arrived the Democratic Republic of Congo, as the country battles outbreak of the disease. This brings to three the number of confirmed Ebola cases.

Congo has reported 23 deaths among the 42 suspected, probable and confirmed cases.

Oly Ilunga Kalenga said a case of the virus was detected in Mbandaka, a city with a population of about 1 million people.

It can spread rapidly through contact with small amounts of bodily fluid and its early flu-like symptoms are not always obvious. WHO says it will use the "ring vaccination" method by administering the treatment to voluntary contacts, and contacts of those contacts, besides health workers. Health experts are already tracing 500 contacts, he said. World Health Organization has said it will send thousands more in the coming days, as needed.

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The first urban case to be announced threatens to change that. "WHO and our partners are taking decisive action to stop further spread of the virus". WHO is also working with Medecins Sans Frontieres and other organizations to stem the outbreak and treat Ebola patients in isolation wards.

Apart from this, the virus outbreak occurred in an area with a traffic of about 7,000 persons a week by different means, which represents a significant risk of further spread, the health official stressed.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976.

The vaccine, developed by Merck and Co Inc, is still not licensed but proved effective during limited trials in West Africa in the biggest-ever outbreak of Ebola, which killed 11,300 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from 2014 to 2016.

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