Dead, 39 Sick in New Outbreak: Death Rate at 50 Percent

WHO gets approval to use Ebola vaccine in DRC

The new vaccine would mean that when a new Ebola case is diagnosed, all people who might have been in recent contact with them are traced and vaccinated to try and prevent the disease's spread, according to Reuters.

The WHO has a stockpile of 4,300 doses of the vaccine in Geneva, Stat News reported.

On May 3, local health authorities reported a mysterious cluster of 21 unexplained illnesses in the Bikoro Health District, located in the Equateur Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. This would be the ninth known Ebola outbreak to strike DRC, including one that involved five confirmed cases previous year.

Health experts said the deadly Ebola virus is transmitted to people through direct contact with wild animals and spreads through human-to-human transmission. Of the 34 suspected cases, two were confirmed, 18 have been classified as probable and 12 remains suspected cases.

The plan is to employ a ring vaccination approach, vaccinating anyone who has been in contact with a case to prevent continuing spread of the virus.

Subsequent tests in Guinea, where there was an actual outbreak, showed it protects against Ebola for up to two years.

"However, early signs including the infection of three health workers, the geographical extent of the outbreak, the proximity to transport routes and population centres, and the number of suspected cases indicate that stopping this outbreak will be a serious challenge".

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The organisation will administer the vaccination to healthcare workers and anyone else who has been potentially exposed to Ebola. According to researchers, the vaccine had an efficacy rate of 100 percent: Of the almost 6,000 patients vaccinated, all were declared Ebola-"free" after 10 days.

Tedros said the government of the DRC has formally asked to use an experimental vaccine being developed by Merck.

"This is not a simple logistical effort; it's not like doing a polio campaign with oral polio vaccines, where we get it immediately out to the field".

"We have the advantage of having this epidemic in a very remote area where travelling isn't easy", said Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum, director-general of the National Institute for Biomedical Research, based in the capital, Kinshasa.

"We are very concerned and we are planning for all scenarios, including the worst-case scenario", Salama said.

Ebola virus disease, which most commonly affects people and nonhuman primates (monkeys, gorillas and chimpanzees), is caused by one of five Ebola viruses.

The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50 percent. The virus is then passed between humans through blood or bodily fluids, like saliva, sweat, urine, semen, or breast milk.

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