Published: Sun, August 05, 2018
Medical | By Johnnie Horton

Rwanda on high alert after Ebola hits DR Congo

Rwanda on high alert after Ebola hits DR Congo

A UNICEF staffer talks with members of an Ebola vaccination team as they prepare to administer the vaccine during the previous Ebola outbreak in Congo in May.

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.

The organization's emergency response chief, Peter Salama, expressed concern about the regional risks this outbreak could pose - given the pattern of its spread and its closeness to worldwide frontiers.

The outbreak on the western side of the country in June, infected dozens, and led to 33 deaths, but despite several cases appearing in a major city on the Congo River, it was fully contained after a massive worldwide and national response. It says 20 people have died from a hemorrhagic fever.

Responding to an Ebola outbreak in DR Congo.

United Kingdom aid agency CAFOD is already working alongside local partners in the area and has contacted specialists in Caritas Congo who responded to the Ebola outbreak in Equateur province.

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

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These symptoms may be followed by diarrhoea, vomiting, troubles of the kidney and liver.

The health ministry said four people have tested positive for Ebola in and around Mangina, a town of about 60,000 people in North Kivu province, 100 km from the Ugandan border.

Officials are already making steps to deploy a vaccine manufactured by Merck which has become the greatest weapon against the spread of the virulent Zaire strain of the virus and which helped contain the earlier outbreak. Eastern Congo is a tinderbox of conflicts over land and ethnicity stoked by decades of on-off war and this could hamper efforts to contain the virus.

The kind of Ebola in the latest outbreak has been confirmed as the Zaire strain that the Merck vaccine protects against.

"I was hit with fear not only about whether my health would be attacked by Ebola, but also how I'm going to feed my family without our Mangina field because all the roads leading to Mangina have been quarantined by the health officials", he said.

The hospital where she works has already seen three people die recently of haemorrhagic fever.

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