Targeted vaccination against Ebola kicks off in DRC - - English

Clark Diaz
May 23, 2018

"With an Ebola outbreak now occurring in the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is all the more essential that World Health Organization focuses on its most important mandate", Azar said Tuesday.

The World Health Organization said 33 people, majority front-line health care workers, were vaccinated against Ebola on Monday in Mbandaka, a city of more than one million people.

According to the World Health Organization report, over 7,500 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine, donated by Merck, have been deployed to the DRC for use in the northwestern Equator Province where 46 suspected, probable and confirmed Ebola cases and 26 deaths have been reported, as of May 18.

MBANDAKA, Democratic Republic of the Congo - After 26 confirmed deaths have been attributed to the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Catholic Relief Services has been working to combat the deadly outbreak through educational and financial assistance.

Hundreds of people have been in contact with infected people and are being monitored, and they are candidates for the first round of an experimental vaccination campaign that began this week.

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"Vaccination will be key to controlling this outbreak".

"It's the first time in the midst of an outbreak ... that we're using this as a way to stem transmission", WHO's Peter Salama said in a telephone interview. "So this is a relatively small investment to stamp out a small outbreak quickly, for a major gain in lives saved, but also in dollars saved", he said. The six new confirmed cases were in the rural Iboko health zone, it said. "Also, those who will receive vaccination are health workers and the responders".

Experts say the VSV-EBOV vaccine will stop the virus from spreading in future outbreaks. Anne Rimoin, associate professor of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health who has had a research and training program and disease surveillance team in the DRC since 2004, is available to comment on this outbreak.

At the central market in Mbandaka, where vendors in colourful fabrics hawk smoked monkeys, some residents said they were unmoved by warnings not to consume bush meat since a case of Ebola was discovered in the city of 1.5 million last week.

He said, "The delay is not affecting us because of the funds we have from Federation Internationale de Football Association and from CAF".

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The American agency is now providing approximately 2,000 personal protective equipment kits, laboratory materials to confirm diagnostic testing, and technical expertise, while leveraging assistance from the Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network on the ground.

This is Congo's ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976, when the disease was first identified. Their expertise includes infection control, contact tracing and emergency operations management. "We are grateful for the support of our partners in making this possible". The rest of the team is made up of newly trained Congolese staff.

"I am proud of the way the whole organisation has responded to this outbreak, at headquarters, the regional office and the country office", he said. But unlike the West Africa epidemic, she said, "this is not thousands of new cases, which is what we were dealing with in the [West African] capitals".

It added that the health system was part of the global community and mandated by worldwide health regulation to report all such conditions if they occurred.

Author information: Lena H. Sun is a national reporter for The Washington Post covering health with a special focus on public health and infectious disease.

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