Uganda, at high risk for Ebola, starts vaccinating medics

Horsemen of the Apocalypse War and Ebola in Eastern Congo

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The health ministry, with support from the World Health Organization (WHO) on Wednesday in Ntoroko district, started vaccinating the frontline health workers against the Ebola.

The head of United Nations peacekeeping operations vowed Wednesday to do more with Congo's government to help improve security in the country's east, where frequent attacks by rebels are undermining efforts to contain an Ebola outbreak that has killed more than 150 people.

If Ebola becomes endemic in substantial areas of North Kivu, in northeastern Congo, "this will mean that we've lost the ability to trace contacts, stop transmission chains and contain the outbreak", said Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security, which hosted the briefing on Capitol Hill that featured the Ebola discussion with Redfield.

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.

Concerns that an undiagnosed Ebola patient may arrive at a health facility seeking treatment led to the decision to vaccinate health care workers at the highest risk of contracting the highly-infectious hemorrhagic fever, in 40 facilities near the border.

Twice-weekly market days - during which some 10,000 Congolese cross into Uganda - have put Uganda at high risk, according to local health officials.

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In vaccinating frontline health workers against EVD, Uganda health authorities are cautiously hoping to prevent another outbreak.

The latest Ebola outbreak that was declared August 1 is the first to occur in Congo's far northeast, where multiple rebel groups are active. The United States - vitally important to the worldwide response in West Africa 2014-2016 - has chosen thus far, out of security concerns, to limit its engagement to the periphery of the outbreak. That number includes the 189 people killed.

More deaths have been recorded in the Ebola outbreak in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, claiming more than 180 lives.

This particular vaccine is now being administered in DRC and is demonstrating positive protective results and potency against the Ebola virus-Zaire type. The conflict slows healthcare workers' attempts to fight the virus.

It is the tenth outbreak of Ebola in the country, then called Zaire, where the disease was first detected in 1976.

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