Thursday, 15 November, 2018

At-risk healthcare workers being vaccinated against Ebola in Uganda

Doctors remove the corpse of an Ebola victim on 22 August 2018 à Mangina eastern DRC.                  AFP  John Wessels Doctors remove the corpse of an Ebola victim on 22 August 2018 à Mangina eastern DRC. AFP John Wessels
Johnnie Parks | 09 November, 2018, 14:09

The Ebola outbreak in conflict-ridden Congo has become so serious that global public health experts need to consider the possibility that it can not be brought under control and instead will become entrenched, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield says.

No cases have been reported in Uganda so far, but health care workers in high-risk districts bordering the Congo are getting vaccinated as a precaution, health officials said.

"The virus has killed 186 people in the North Kivu and Ituri regions, while 88 others have been cured, " the ministry said on Monday. Sometimes violent community resistance is complicating efforts to contain Congo's latest Ebola outbreak, causing the rate of new cases to rise. Fighting fear and mistrust has been a big problem for health workers in various Ebola outbreaks.Ebola has popped up multiple times in Central Africa since it was first identified in 1976.

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.

The World Health Organization, CDC and other worldwide health organizations say they are anxious about the current Ebola outbreak spreading to port cities like Butembo, which will only exacerbate infection transmission rates.

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WHO said in a statement released on Wednesday that it is "highly likely" that Ugandans in districts near the border will be infected with the virus, due to their close proximity to the epicentre of the outbreak, and high population movements due to trade, social and cultural connections and the relatively easy access to health services.

The strategy in Uganda involves an experimental vaccine, which officials say will not be given to the public.

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. Uganda was affected before in 2000 and 2001 where the infection killed 261 and infected 574 individuals. Once infected only management available is supportive therapy. Some of these combinations include ZMapp, REGN-EB3, the antiviral drug remdesivir and single-antibody drug called mAb114.

This Merck vaccine candidate rVSV-Ebola was also used in the Ebola outbreak in Equateur province in May-July 2018.

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