Ebola deaths CONFIRMED as virus continues to spread

REUTERSEbola has spread to the city of Mbandaka

REUTERSEbola has spread to the city of Mbandaka

"What we're saying though is that urban Ebola is very different phenomenon to rural Ebola because we know that people in urban areas can have far more contacts so that means that urban Ebola can result in an exponential increase in cases in a way that rural Ebola struggles to do". And until now, all the confirmed cases of Ebola were in Bikoro health zone, some 90 miles south of Mbandaka.

Mbandaka had three suspected cases in addition to the confirmed case.

Last week, a top World Health Organization official warned that if the virus reached Mbandaka, the DRC could be confronted with yet another Ebola crisis.

The deployment of this experimental vaccine will prove a major test for not only the efficacy of the vaccine but for global health strategies created to respond to major viral outbreaks such as this. The WHO has called an emergency meeting over a health crisis of potentially "international concern". The case in Mbandaka is only the third confirmed case of the current outbreak; 20 others are probable, and 21 are suspected, bringing the total of potential cases to 44.

The health ministry said it had received 5,400 doses of Ebola vaccine Wednesday morning.

This is the ninth time DRC has been hit with Ebola since 1976, when the deady viral disease was first identified in then-Zaire by a Belgian-led team.

In this photo taken Saturday, May 12, 2018, health workers don protective clothing as they prepare to attend to patients in the isolation ward to diagnose and treat suspected Ebola patients, at Bikoro Hospital in Bikoro, the rural area where the Ebola outbreak was announced last week, in Congo.

Ebola is notoriously hard to contain, though recent outbreaks in Congo have been managed swiftly by the government and global health institutions.

REUTERSCongolese Health Ministry officials carry the first batch of experimental Ebola vaccines in Kinshasa
REUTERSCongolese Health Ministry officials carry the first batch of experimental Ebola vaccines in Kinshasa

The agency said yesterday it was deploying around 30 experts to Mbandaka "to conduct surveillance in the city", including rapid efforts to trace all contacts of the new urban case.

The WHO is sending 7,540 doses of an experimental vaccine to try to stop the outbreak in its tracks, and 4,300 doses have already arrived in Kinshasa.

Salama, the WHO's deputy director-general for emergency response, said Mbandaka's location on the Congo river raised the prospect of Ebola spreading to Congo-Brazzaville and the Central African Republic, as well as downstream to Kinshasa, which has a population of 10 million.

How "experimental" is this Ebola vaccine?

The vaccine supplies will be enough to vaccinate 50 rings of 150 people, the World Health Organization said.

Ebola, which can cause multiple organ failure, is passed from human to human by contact through the mouth, nose, or broken skin with blood or other bodily fluids of those infected.

The average fatality rate among those infected with the virus is about 50 percent, according to the WHO.

Early symptoms include fever, muscle pain and fatigue, followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rashes and bleeding - both internal and external - apparent in the gums, eyes, nasal passages and faeces.

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