Sunday December 15, 2019

Vaccination Campaign Against Ebola Virus Launched In Democratic Republic of Congo

At the moment, officials have only 7,500 doses of the experimental vaccine.

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a move that tries to cut off the virus at the pass while also making good use of the limited supply of the vaccine.
Health officials in the rural corner of northwest Congo that has been hit with Ebola say workers are seeking out those at the highest risk to vaccinate. Pixabay
Health officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo began a vaccination drive to control an Ebola outbreak that has infected more than 50 people and killed as many as 25. But as aid workers and health experts say this vaccination drive is a careful, methodical process in which trust is a key element.

Health officials in the rural corner of northwest Congo that has been hit with Ebola say workers are seeking out those at the highest risk to vaccinate, a move that tries to cut off the virus at the pass while also making good use of the limited supply of the vaccine.

At the moment, officials have only 7,500 doses of the experimental vaccine.

Tarik Jasarevic
World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said, “This is not a general mass immunization, as is being done for some other diseases. We are looking into people who have been in contact with those who tested positive for Ebola”. Pixabay

World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic explained the campaign, which began this week in the rural communities of Bikoro and Iboko.

“This is not a general mass immunization, as is being done for some other diseases,” he explained. “We are looking into people who have been in contact with those who tested positive for Ebola, and their contacts. So we make a ring around the person who contracted the virus.”

That is careful work and involves much more than medicine, said UNICEF field worker Jean Claude Nzengu.

He said workers go to the households to talk about the vaccination that stops transmission, the advantage of the vaccination, what the residents need to do, how to behave, and finally take them to be vaccinated.

Congolese health authorities first reported the Ebola outbreak in early May. This is not Congo’s first encounter with the often-deadly virus, which causes an acute, serious illness. The WHO puts the survival rate around 50 percent.

That is careful work and involves much more than medicine
UNICEF field worker Jean Claude Nzengu.
said workers go to the households to talk about the vaccination. Pixabay

Last week, three infected patients escaped from isolation units in the city of Mbandaka. Two were found dead a day later and the other was found alive and returned to quarantine.

Jasarevic said it takes cooperation from the entire community for an Ebola outbreak to be defeated.

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“It is only human that people who have their relatives in isolation units want them to be at home, want them to be with their family at home in what could be the last moments of their lives,” he said. “But we need really to explain to everyone how disease is being transmitted. If a person who is sick is in an isolation unit, it not only increases the chance of survival for this patient, but it will also prevent the spread of the virus to the family.”

The vaccination drive began last week, with health care workers receiving the first doses.

The experimental vaccine, made by U.S.-based Merck pharmaceuticals, has been shown in trials to be safe for humans. (VOA)

Next Story

Nipah Virus has Serious Epidemic Potential: Health Experts

Health Experts Warn of Emerging Threat of Nipah Virus

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Virus
A deadly virus called Nipah carried by bats has already caused human outbreaks across South and South East Asia. (Representational Image). Lifetime Stock

A deadly virus called Nipah carried by bats has already caused human outbreaks across South and South East Asia and has “serious epidemic potential,” global health and infectious disease specialists said on Monday.

The virus, identified in 1999 in Malaysia and Singapore, has sparked outbreaks with mortality rates of between 40% and 90% and spread thousands of kilometers to Bangladesh and India – yet there are no drugs or vaccines against it, they said.

“Twenty years have passed since its discovery, but the world is still not adequately equipped to tackle the global health threat posed by Nipah virus,” said Richard Hatchett, chief executive of the CEPI Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, which is co-leading a Nipah conference this week in Singapore.

CEPI, a partnership between disease experts, and public, private, philanthropic, and civil organizations, was set up in 2017 to try to speed up the development of vaccines against newly emerging and unknown infectious diseases.

Health epidemic
Doctors and relatives wearing protective gear carry the body of a victim, who lost his battle against the brain-damaging Nipah virus, during his funeral at a burial ground in Kozhikode, in the southern Indian state of Kerala. VOA

Among its first disease targets is Nipah, a virus carried primarily by certain types of fruit bats and pigs, which can also be transmitted directly from person to person as well as through contaminated food.

Within two years of being first discovered, Nipah had spread to Bangladesh, where it has caused several outbreaks since 2001.   A 2018 Nipah outbreak in Kerala, India, killed 17 people.

“Outbreaks of Nipah virus have so far been confined to South and Southeast Asia, but the virus has serious epidemic potential, because Pteropus fruit bats that carry the virus are found throughout the tropics and sub-tropics, which are home to more than two billion people,” Hatchett said.

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He said since Nipah can also pass from person to person, it could, in theory, also spread into densely populated areas too.   The two-day Nipah conference, the first to focus on this deadly virus, is being co-hosted by CEPI and the Duke-NUS Medical School in Singapore and starts on Monday.

“There are currently no specific drugs or vaccines for Nipah virus infection, even though the World Health Organization has identified (it) as a priority disease,” said Wang Linfa, a Duke NUS professor and co-chair the conference. He hoped the meeting would stimulate experts to find ways of finding Nipah. (VOA)