Tuesday June 18, 2019

Pregnant Women To Be Vaccinated Against The Deadly Ebola Virus

Ring vaccination is a strategy that prevents the spread of the disease by vaccinating only those likely to be infected with the virus.

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Ebola
Ring vaccination is a strategy that prevents the spread of the disease by vaccinating only those likely to be infected with the virus. VOA

An independent advisory body convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends pregnant women and breastfeeding women in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo be vaccinated against the deadly Ebola virus. Latest WHO figures put the number of Ebola cases in the DRC at 853, including 521 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak in August.

More than 80,000 people so far have been vaccinated against Ebola in the African country’s conflict-ridden North Kivu and Ituri provinces during the current outbreak. The vaccine is still in its experimental stage. But since 2015 it has been given to thousands of people in Africa, Europe and the United States.

The studies of the efficacy of the vaccine are not conclusive. However, they indicate the serum is safe and protects people against Ebola. On the basis of accumulated evidence, the group of immunization experts recommends continued ring vaccination for Ebola in DRC.

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The WHO says all vaccinated pregnant women will be closely monitored until the birth of their babies to see if there are any adverse effects. Pixabay

Ring vaccination is a strategy that prevents the spread of the disease by vaccinating only those likely to be infected with the virus. WHO spokesman, Tarek Jasarevic says the experts advise pregnant women at high risk of infection and death from Ebola should be given the vaccination.

“So, this aim, this vaccinating of women would protect them, provide them with more protection. But we also know that if we use this ring vaccination that women who are in the community that is vaccinated then have a low risk. So, it is really between risk and benefits and we hope that the use of the vaccine in pregnant women will generate some data for the future,” Jasarevic said.

ring vaccine
On the basis of accumulated evidence, the group of immunization experts recommends continued ring vaccination for Ebola in DRC. Pixabay

The group of experts advise the vaccine be given to pregnant women in their second or third trimester as well as to breastfeeding women and babies under one year old.

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The experts also recommend that one or more of three other new experimental Ebola vaccines be tested in areas neighboring the affected regions. They say pregnant and breastfeeding women should be included in these trials.

The WHO says all vaccinated pregnant women will be closely monitored until the birth of their babies to see if there are any adverse effects. (VOA)

Next Story

Uganda Confirms First Ebola Case Outside DRC Outbreak

The announcement puts new pressure on the World Health Organization to declare the Ebola outbreak

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ebola
FILE- An Ebola health worker is seen at a treatment center in Beni, Eastern Congo, April 16, 2019. VOA

A child in Uganda has tested positive for Ebola in the first cross-border case of the deadly virus since an outbreak started in neighboring Congo last year, Uganda’s health ministry said late Tuesday, in a blow to efforts by health workers who for months sought to prevent contamination across the heavily traveled frontier.

The 5-year-old Congolese boy has been isolated with family members at a hospital in a western district near the Congo border, Ugandan Health Minister Jane Aceng told reporters.

The announcement puts new pressure on the World Health Organization to declare the Ebola outbreak — the second-deadliest in history — a global health emergency. The outbreak is unfolding amid unprecedented challenges of rebel attacks and community resistance in a region that had never experienced Ebola before.

In April, a WHO expert committee decided that the outbreak, while of “deep concern,” was not yet a global health emergency. But international spread is one of the major criteria the United Nations agency considers before such a declaration.

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FILE – A Congolese man holds a cross during the burial service of a Congolese woman who died of Ebola, at a cemetery in Butembo. VOA

Conflicting statements

It was not immediately clear when the boy entered Uganda. A WHO statement said he entered on Sunday with his family through the Bwera border post. He sought treatment at Kagando hospital and was transferred to Bwera Ebola treatment unit, WHO said.

Confirmation of Ebola was made Tuesday by the Uganda Virus Institute. “The ministry of health and WHO have dispatched a rapid response team to Kasese to identify other people who may be at risk,” WHO said.

Congo’s health ministry, however, in a separate statement said the boy, from Mabalako, arrived on Monday at Congo’s Kasindi border post. There, a dozen family members appeared to have symptoms and were transferred to an isolation center at the local hospital for observation.

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Six family members then broke away while being transferred to an Ebola treatment center in Beni and crossed into Uganda while Congolese border officials alerted their Ugandan colleagues, Congo’s health ministry said. Uganda officials found the family members at the Kagando hospital, where the boy’s Ebola case was confirmed.

Officials from the two countries will meet Wednesday about the possibility of sending the family back to Beni in Congo for treatment, the health ministry said.

It was not immediately clear how the family members were able to cross the border, where millions have travelers have been monitored for Ebola since the outbreak began.

Nearly 1,400 deaths

Uganda, Ebola, DRC
A child in Uganda has tested positive for Ebola in the first cross-border case. Pixabay

There have been more than 2,000 confirmed and probable cases of the Ebola virus in Congo since August, with nearly 1,400 deaths. The disease is spread mainly through contact with the bodily fluids of those infected.

For the first time, an experimental but effective Ebola vaccine is being widely used, with more than 130,000 doses distributed. Uganda has vaccinated nearly 4,700 health workers, WHO said.

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Uganda has had multiple outbreaks of Ebola and other hemorrhagic fevers since 2000. (VOA)