Ebola virus infects 300 people in eastern Congo

Doctors remove the corpse of an Ebola victim on 22 August 2018 à Mangina eastern DRC.                  AFP  John Wessels

The Ebola outbreak in conflict-ridden Congo has become so serious that worldwide public health experts need to consider the possibility that it can not be brought under control and instead will become entrenched, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield says.

The ministry of health has said teams responding to the Ebola outbreak are attacked three or four times a week on average.

Contact tracing is still of concern due to insecurity and persistent community resistance.

The death from Ebola of a young Ugandan physician in 2000, one of more than 200 people killed in that outbreak, sparked a national outpouring of grief and helped spread awareness of how Ebola is transmitted.

The outbreak began shortly after the government declared an end to another outbreak in the west of the country in June and lauded those involved for managing to swiftly contain the spread of the disease.

If worldwide Ebola containment efforts fail in the Congo, it would mark the first time the virus was not stopped since 1976, when Ebola was first identified.

Healthcare workers in Uganda have begun vaccinating high risk health workers against the deadly viral infection Ebola this week.

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The World Health Organization, CDC and other global health organizations say they are anxious about the current Ebola outbreak spreading to port cities like Butembo, which will only exacerbate infection transmission rates.

Officials fear the epidemic will spread from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo and are implementing the plan so healthcare workers don't catch the virus and spread it.

There are so far 239 confirmed cases in DRC in the latest flare-up, and 174 people have died from the disease.

"The vaccine is highly potent and it will protect workers effectively, " Woldemariam said. This is called the "ring vaccination strategy" and is an effective method of eradicating highly contagious infectious diseases, say the officials.

The move to vaccinate health operatives even before detecting a single case, came as a precaution after a number of health workers died from the virus while treating Ebola patients in a previous outbreak.

Uganda has for the first time imitated a vaccination drive against Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF) as a preventive measure against the disease that has for the past months ravaged neighbours, DR Congo. Once infected only management available is supportive therapy.

The vaccine is only used under "compassionate use" although it is not commercially licensed.

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