WHO warns there may be no vaccine option for new Ebola outbreak

Concerns Over Fresh Outbreak Of Ebola In D.R. Congo

Concerns Over Fresh Outbreak Of Ebola In D.R. Congo

Speaking just over a week after the United Nations agency declared the last Ebola episode over, some 2,500 miles away to the west in DRC's Equateur province, Dr. Salama said that WHO was unaware of the public health emergency in North Kivu province at that point.

Leaders in DR Congo on Tuesday confirmed 20 people had died from the haemorrhagic fever in and around Mangina, a densely populated town about 100km from the Uganda's Mpondwe border post in the Western district of Kasese.

WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic says the DRC ministry of Health informed WHO Wednesday that four of six samples taken in North Kivu tested positive for Ebola virus.

The outbreak declared in North Kivu province on August 1 poses the same problems as past cases in the DRC, including major logistical hurdles in a volatile country with weak health infrastructure.

The last outbreak of this fatal virus in Congo was declared over just a week ago.

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The Ebola virus is spreading fast and according to the World Health Organisation, the outbreak might have started in May this year. "For the region it's high given the proximity to borders, particularly Uganda", said WHO's emergency response chief Peter Salama.

The response to Congo's previous outbreak was considered a success despite the 33 deaths, as the use of a vaccine made by Merck helped contain the virus.

"It would appear that the risk, as we can surmise for DRC, is high".

The latest outbreak is the tenth in Congo since the virus was discovered near the Ebola river in 1976.

The outbreak in northwestern Congo also belonged to the Zaire strain and an experimental vaccine from pharmaceutical company Merck was used to fight its spread.

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In the latest outbreak, 26 suspected cases have been recorded with 20 fatalities in Mangina, a town 30km west of Beni.

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

He said seven of the woman's immediate family later also died from Ebola-like symptoms, and health workers were now trying to track down potential contacts in 10 locations spread over tens of kilometers.

Meanwhile, Uganda has set up screening at the land border it shares with Congo and at its Entebbe worldwide airport.

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