UNICEF at forefront of awareness campaign to contain Ebola outbreak in DRC

Ebola Outbreak In Congo Made Another Victim Bringing The Death Toll To 27

UNICEF at forefront of awareness campaign to contain Ebola outbreak in DRC

Of them, 37 confirmed; 14 probable and nine suspects. Over the past month, 27 of these individuals have died.

His optimism was echoed by Peter Salama, MD, the WHO's deputy director-general of emergency response.

An Ebola health worker at Bikoro Hospital, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

World Health Organization said four of the five approved drugs are now in the country, which are Zmapp, GS-5734, REGN monoclonal antibody combination, and mAb114, under the framework of compassionate use and expanded access.

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Beginning with the 1976 discovery of Ebola in an area that is now the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country has experienced nine outbreaks.

Mbandaka, in northwest DRC, has a population of around one million.

"This tells us the response is having an impact in those two locations", said Salama, referring to the robust ring vaccination campaign launched 2 weeks ago with Merck's VSV-EBOV.

The Ministry of Health, together with the World Health Organization (WHO), Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), and other global organizations, have been carrying out a vaccination campaign in the three areas for the past two weeks, and about 1,400 people have already been vaccinated.

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WHO has been working with the Ministry of Health and worldwide partners, including M-decins Sans Fronti-res (Doctors Without Borders) to inoculate only those people at high risk of infection: primary and secondary contacts. Bikoro health zone and Wangata health zone both reported their last confirmed case in mid-May. The virus spreads via bodily fluids of infected people, including the dead. The virus enters the body through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose or mouth. More than 98% of known contacts have been vaccinated, Salama said.

He warned, however, that experts are not in a position to document all chains of transmission of the virus, so "there may still yet be unknown chains out there and there may still be surprises in this outbreak". Health workers monitor close contacts for 21 days and isolate them should they become ill. The infrastructure is only beginning to catch up, he added, with motorcycles arriving now. It's a "major boots on the ground" effort that takes several hours to trace each and every contact, he said.

Clinicians working in the treatment centres will make decisions on which drug to use as deemed helpful for their patients, and appropriate for the setting.

Based on the IHR assessment and status of core capacities implementation in countries, the plan lays out WHO's recommendations to ensure that these countries are operationally ready to prevent the importation of cases, implement risk mitigation, detection and response measures for Ebola.

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"We're cautiously optimistic but there's a lot of very tough work to do in phase two before we say that we're on the top of this outbreak", said Dr. Salama. "And we've learned the hard way in the past never to underestimate Ebola".

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