The World Health Organization has deployed 4,000 doses of vaccine along with emergency teams and equipment to the Democratic Republic of Congo to control an outbreak of Ebola, which is suspected to have infected 39 people, including 19 deaths.
The UN agency is working with the country's Ministry of Health and international nongovernmental organization Médecins Sans Frontières to conduct ring vaccinations across the affected region, where contacts of those infected, followed by contacts of those contacts, would all be vaccinated.
Though 4,000 doses have been shipped, more are expected to be sent out, WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevik confirmed.
The latest outbreak is occurring in the northwest of country, in the Bikoro health zone, 400 kilometers (about 250 miles) from Mbandaka, the capital of Equateur province.
Of the 39 cases of Ebola reported since April 5, two have been confirmed using laboratory tests.
A further 362 people at risk have been identified using contact tracing, said Dr. Ibrahima-Soce Fall, WHO regional emergency director for Africa.
"This outbreak is very close to the Republic of Congo and Central African Republic. And we are taking it very seriously because it is close to Mbandaka, a city of 1 million people," Fall said, adding that there are two suspected cases in Mbandaka, and the patients are being held in isolation.
The Government of Democratic Republic of the Congo has declared an outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the remote health zone of Bikoro, Equateur Province.
WHO is supporting the Ministry of Health and partners in the activation of an Emergency Operations Centre to coordinate the response and in deployment of rapid response teams to investigate cases and deaths.
US$1 million have been released from the WHO contingency fund for emergencies to support a rapid response.
An international consortium of researchers has reported that an Ebola vaccine appears to provide volunteers protection against the virus two years after they were injected — encouraging findings both for the public health community and the vaccine’s manufacturer.
An earlier study, conducted in Guinea near the end of the devastating West African Ebola outbreak, showed the vaccine from Merck, which is given in a single shot, rapidly generated protection against the virus. But how long that protection lasts remained an open question.
A fast-acting, long-lasting vaccine given in a single dose would be an effective tool for controlling dangerous Ebola outbreaks. Vaccinating health care workers, for instance, could prevent the type of spread within hospitals that, in the early days of an outbreak, can turn a smoldering outbreak into a conflagration.
One hundred years ago, Pvt. Albert Mitchell, an Army mess cook stationed at Fort Riley, Kan., received the first diagnosis of a new strain of influenza that eventually infected approximately 500 million people across the globe — about one-third of the world’s population — and led to at least 50 million deaths, far more than the lives lost in the still-raging World War I . The Spanish flu pandemic brought new urgency to the quest to comprehend infectious diseases and the way they work, but the subject is still beset by scientific challenges and popular misunderstandings. Here are five of the most tenacious.