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DR Congo to vaccinate against Ebola after two deaths – KBC | Kenya’s Watching

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Officials in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are gearing up to begin an Ebola vaccination campaign following the death of two people in North Kivu province.

A 60-year-old female farmer died of Ebola on Wednesday, six days after a 42-year-old woman had died in hospital of the virus near the city of Butembo.

Eugene Nzanzu Syalita, the province’s health minister, told the BBC that they would start inoculating people in Masoya, a heath zone near Butembo. He did not specify when exactly this would be.

In total he said 161 people in that area had been traced who had had contact with the first patient.

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Samples are being studied in the capital, Kinshasa, to assess whether the cases are a new strain of Ebola.

The virus was first discovered in DR Congo in 1976 and the country has suffered 11 outbreaks in total over the last four decades.

The last major one was also in the east – killing 2,287 people between August 2018 and June 2020.

In response to the West Africa epidemic, which killed more than 11,000 people from 2014 to 2016, several vaccines were developed and were first used in DR Congo in 2019.

Why Ebola is so dangerous

Ebola is a viral illness of which the initial symptoms can include a sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and a sore throat, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). And that is just the beginning: subsequent stages are vomiting, diarrhoea and – in some cases – both internal and external bleeding.

The disease infects humans through close contact with infected animals, including chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelope.

It then spreads between humans by direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments. Even funerals of Ebola victims can be a risk, if mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased.

The incubation period can last from two days to three weeks, and diagnosis is difficult. The human disease has so far been mostly limited to Africa, although one strain has cropped up in the Philippines.

Healthcare workers are at risk if they treat patients without taking the right precautions to avoid infection. People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus – in some cases, up to seven weeks after they recover.

Where does it strike?

Ebola outbreaks occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rain forests, says the WHO.

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