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CDC: Ebola outbreak may be beyond control

09 November 2018, 02:10 | Randall Craig

AL-HADJI KUDRA MALIRO APA healthcare worker from the World Health Organisation gives an Ebola vaccination to a front line aid worker

A healthcare worker from the World Health Organisation gives an Ebola vaccination to a front line aid worker

Uganda is the first country in the world to give the vaccine without an active outbreak of the disease, but is judged to be at very high risk.

This precaution is being taken because the health care officials are anxious that the infection would spread into the country from the borders shared with Democratic Republic of Congo. "Quick action is needed to affirm US leadership in eastern Congo, better understand the specific security threats at play, and come up with practical solutions that permit the safe deployment of a small USA expert contingent into the center of the outbreak, where seasoned USA talent is most needed" (11/1).

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

J. Stephen Morrison, senior vice president and director of the Global Health Policy Center, and Judd Devermont, director of the Africa Program, both at CSIS, discuss the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu province in eastern Congo, writing, "There is an urgent need for high-level political attention focused on generating an updated game plan to improve security, train and deploy community health workers and Congolese public health experts, and win community trust and cooperation".

The vaccine that is being administered is still experimental but has been shown to be protective in the clinical trials.

World Health Organization in a statement said the vaccine is being administered in DRC and has been proven to demonstrate positive protective results.

A total of 2,100 doses of the "rVSV-Ebola" vaccine will be administered to the health workers to protect them against the type of Ebola virus strain that is now circulating in some parts of DRC.




In Congo, where thousands of people have been given the experimental Ebola vaccine, a worrying number of vaccinated health workers have been infected.

Uganda's Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng said she believes that the administration of the Ebola vaccine to frontline healthcare workers has been the missing link in the country's EVD preparation and readiness efforts.

Other preparatory activities underway in Uganda to prevent the spread of the disease include health facility and community-based surveillance, collection and testing of blood samples and cross-border monitoring. "This context puts the healthcare and frontline workers in Uganda at risk of being in contact with an [Ebola] case".

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.

By comparison, the entire population of Liberia, one of the hardest hit countries during the West Africa Ebola epidemic of 2014 - 2016, is about 4.8 million. In 2000 and 2001, 574 people were infected and 261 died in Uganda. The last outbreak, contained in July, sickened 53 people and killed 33.

The infection is capable of killing 20 to 70 percent of those who are infected depending on the strain of virus.

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



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