Direct Relief Monitoring Ebola Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo

The idea is to vaccinate people who know someone who has been infected and the people who know those people, in an expanding "ring" around the infections. "As further information becomes available, the risk assessment will be reviewed", the health organization added.

The WHO has received approval to use an experimental Ebola vaccine. During his visit, the minister tweeted that laboratory staff from Kinshasa had already arrived in Bikoro to start identifying Ebola cases.

Information about the outbreak in Bikoro, Iboko and Wangata in Equateur province was still limited, the WHO said, but at present the outbreak does not meet the criteria for declaring a "public health event of worldwide concern", which would trigger the formation of an emergency WHO committee. While outbreaks in remote areas usually mean the disease can be contained, on this occasion suspected cases have been reported in three locations spread over 60km. WHO experts say the outbreak has not yet met the criteria "of a public heath event of global concern", which would require an emergency WHO Committee meeting. But the vaccine is still experimental as it does not have a licence. In addition to an importation license, the World Health Organization needs formal agreement on the research protocols with the government and local ethical review board approval for reasons of liability, and legal and insurance issues associated with use of experimental products, he added.

But it's still very worrisome, said Dr. Peter Salama, WHO's deputy director general for emergency preparedness and response.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is the birthplace of Ebola, with the virus itself being named after the Ebola River that runs through the country. "It's a highly complex operation in one of the most hard terrains in the world".

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The disease is believed to be hosted by bats but the blood and bodily fluids of animals is how the disease is thought to have transmitted to humans.

An air bridge for supplies and personnel will be established by the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) starting 13 May with daily flights scheduled from Kinshasa to Mbandaka and Mbandaka to Bikoro.

Personal protective equipment, body bags, boxes for transportation and interagency emergency health kits have been sent to the affected region.

The Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is coordinating the response.

  • Myrtle Hill