World Health Organization to know soon if new Congo Ebola outbreak can use vaccine

Four out of six samples sent to the Institut National de Recherche Biomédicale in Kinshasa tested positive for Ebola

Geneva - Containing an Ebola outbreak in a "warzone" in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is among the most hard challenges the World Health Organisation (WHO) has faced, a top official said on Friday.

Four people have tested positive for Ebola in and around Mangina, a town of about 60,000 people in North Kivu province, 100 km (62 miles) from the Ugandan border. An additional 20 people have died in the area since July, as a result of hemorrhagic fevers that have not been identified as Ebola. Salama underscored that the successful containment of the Equateur outbreak in just 10 weeks required arduous travel around a remote region, tracing and vaccinating people who may have been exposed to the virus. "The risk is high at the country level, high at the regional level and low at a global level", he said.

Ever since it was discovered near the Ebola River in northern Congo, the country has seen 10 outbreaks of the virus since 1976, nearly twice as many epidemics as other nations.

"We are talking about tens of kilometres but I stress that this is very preliminary information at this stage".

Ebola, which causes hemorrhagic fever, vomiting, diarrhea and frequently death in humans, finds a natural home in Congo's dense equatorial forests where infected bats are suspected of transporting it long distances.

Health officials have given new details about how the latest outbreak came to light.

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Jasarevic says World Health Organization will work with these neighboring countries to try to prevent the virus from crossing over.

About 1,000 civilians have been killed by armed groups and government soldiers around Beni since 2014, and the wider region of North Kivu holds over one million displaced people.

The WHO has confirmed that the latest strain is the Zaire strain, which is what the Merck vaccine targets as per Congo's health ministry.

Agents were deployed to warn people about the need for strict hygiene and the local radio station passed on messages about how to act, a local journalist said by phone.

The Ministry has also reactivated surveillance teams and task forces at Uganda's different border points with Congo to control movements and conduct screening for those entering the country.

Health officials have blocked off the village of Mangina, where four cases have been confirmed.

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