How Catholic Relief Services is helping amid DRC Ebola outbreak

Kenny-Katombe Butunka  Reuters

Abuja - Despite repeated calls for the cancellation of worldwide friendly match between Super Eagles of Nigeria and DR Congo on May 28 in preparation for the 2018 World Cup, the federal government has insisted that the match would not be called off following the festering outbreak of Ebola virus in the country.

There are 49 hemorrhagic fever cases: 22 confirmed as Ebola, 21 probable and six suspected, according to Health Minister Oly Ilunga.

The rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine was created by re-engineering the vesicular stomatitis virus, which mainly affects horses and cattle, to carry a particularly deadly strain of Ebola first identified in the then Zaire (now DRC), and is also the strain that caused the West Africa outbreak.

Health workers and other frontline responders will be among the first to be vaccinated, following the death of a nurse over the weekend.

The discovery of at least one case in Mbandaka, a densely populated port city on the eastern bank of the Congo River, has raised concerns about the potential for rapid spread of the disease, which had previously been limited to a remote area in the rain forest of Congo's Equateur province.

DR Congo's health ministry spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga told Reuters that one of the deaths was recorded in the provincial capital of Mbandaka.

Ebola, however, does in many cases remain longer in semen, and therefore can be transmitted through sexual contact for some months after recovery.

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Two dozen vaccinators, including Congolese and Guineans who administered the vaccine in their country during the 2014-2016 outbreak, are in Mbandaka to start injecting the 540 doses that have arrived, the health minister said.

Cases of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo continue to be reported. Another 8,000 doses will be made available in the coming days, the World Health Organization said Monday.

Congo health officials are encouraging people to wash their hands, to touch each other as little as possible and to avoid meat that is potentially infected, Al Jazeera reported.

Moeti, said, "The vaccines need to be stored at a temperature of minus 60 to minus 80 degrees centigrade and so transporting them to and storing them in affected areas is a major challenge".

He said there will be no declaration of the outbreak as a public health emergency of global concern even though the situation remains serious. In what is the ninth Ebola outbreak since 1976, the DRC has learned how to effectively manage outbreaks and reduce fatalities. The virus is initially transmitted to people from wild animals, including bats and monkeys.

Symptoms of Ebola include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pains and occasional bleeding, and it is primarily spread through contact with bodily fluids.

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