'Strong progress' in calming Congo Ebola outbreak

Congo confirms another Ebola case as outbreak hits 1-month mark

Kinshasa, Jun 7 (Prensa Latina) The Ministry of Health announced today that it held an awareness day with 50 traditional doctors (healers) seeking support in the fight against the Ebola epidemic in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

A new case was discovered in the health zone known as Iboko - symptoms started June 2 - bringing the overall tally to 62 confirmed or suspected cases and 27 deaths.

The Ministry of Health, together with the World Health Organization (WHO), Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), and other worldwide 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.

With the help of the World Health Organization (WHO) and NGOs, the DRC is immunising frontline workers with a vaccine that has shown to be highly effective in trials, although it is still awaiting regulatory approval.

"There's been very strong progress in the outbreak response, particularly in relation to two of three sites", Salama said. This is the DRC's ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976 when the hemorrhagic fever was first identified.

It is the capital of Equateur province, where the small town of Bikoro also is located.

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He said the focus now was on rural isolated communities in the Iboko health zone which would present logistical and other challenges.

The disease, which is transmitted by direct contact with the blood and body fluids of infected people or animals, causes severe bleeding and can have a mortality rate of 90%.

The area had no infrastructure and could be covered only by motorbike, with several hours needed to trace every contact, he said.

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.

On Monday, the Ministry of Health approved the use of these experimental treatments, some used on patients in past outbreaks, during the current outbreak.

"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.

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