New outbreak of Ebola in the DRC

Ebola virus

"The goal of this communication is therefore to request you to enhance your surveillance systems and preparedness and have a high index of suspicion for Ebola, urgently report any alerts to Public Health Emergency Operation Centre on Toll free phone line 0800203033 and/ or Ministry of Health on 0800100066", Dr. Mwebesa noted.

Congo's health ministry says that it is preparing to begin Ebola vaccinations Wednesday in the eastern city of Beni and neighboring Mangina village where the outbreak was announced last week.

World Health Organization has said 3,000 doses of the vaccine are still in DR Congo's capital, Kinshasa, and that it can access up to 300,000 more on short notice. Although the massive refugee population makes identification, isolation, and treatment more hard, the country's health ministry announced that 879 people who have had contact with Ebola patients have so far been identified.

But the new outbreak in the East of the DRC is on track to dwarf the one that sparked global panic in earlier this summer in the North West. Investigations are ongoing, but as of August 3, a total of 43 Ebola virus cases, including 33 deaths, have been reported, and another 33 suspected cases are pending lab testing.

DRC authorities still have on hand thousands of doses of the Merck vaccine, Reuters reports.

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The scenario of the disease poses other challenges, as it is a zone of conflict in which several armed groups operate and there is an active contraband given its proximity to the borders with Rwanda and Uganda.

Dr Derek Gatherer, a virologist from Lancaster University, warned the outbreak earlier this summer was "reminiscent" of the 2014 Ebola pandemic. The major barrier will be safely accessing the affected population'.

"On the scale of degree of difficulty, trying to extinguish an outbreak of a deadly, high-threat pathogen in a war zone reaches the top of any of our scales", Salama tells ScienceInsider.

That outbreak was about 2,500 km (1,553 miles) from the current outbreak.

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