In Congo, war and Ebola outbreak spread fear to neighboring nations

Uganda starts Ebola vaccination for high-risk health workers

The outbreak began shortly after the government declared an end to another outbreak in the west of the country in June and lauded those involved for managing to swiftly contain the spread of the disease.

"It is highly likely that Uganda may import Ebola virus disease from DRC given the closeness of the current epicenter, the high population movements due to trade, social-cultural connections and easy accessibility of health services in Uganda", the WHO said.

Jane Aceng, Uganda's health minister in a statement added, "The public health risk of cross border transmission of Ebola to Uganda [from DRC] was assessed to be very high at the national level".

A total of 2100 doses of "rVSV-Ebola" vaccine are to be administered to the health workers to protect them against Zaire type virus, the strain that is now circulating in some parts of DRC.

The rVSV-Ebola vaccine is now being administered in DRC and is demonstrating positive protective results and potency against the Ebola virus-Zaire type.

Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, WHO country representative in Uganda, told newsmen that the operation kicked off in Uganda's western district of Ntoroko.

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Although the "investigational vaccine" has not yet been licensed it was used in previous Ebola outbreaks in Guinea, Sierra Leone and DR Congo at the recommendation of the WHO's group of experts.

According to authorities, about 26,000 people in the central African nation have meanwhile received a vaccine to prevent Ebola.

"Therefore, the rVSV-Ebola vaccine is not available to the general population at this stage".

Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) said there is not enough valid research to risk the health of pregnant women nor their future child with the investigational vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV. "This is targeted vaccination", she emphasized.

In December 2000, Lukwiya, a medical superintendent of Lacor Hospital in the northern district of Gulu, died along with 12 nurses after contracting the highly contagious disease, which is transmitted through contact with body fluids.

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. He assured them about its potency and ability to protect them effectively.

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