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Congo begins Ebola vaccinations around the outbreak



Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo – On Monday, officials in Bikoro began vaccinating health workers and others against Ebola, where an outbreak of the disease was announced in early May.

The Congolese health minister, Oly Ilunga, has traveled and monitored the inoculations of at least 10 people in Bikoro, where at least five of the 12 deaths from Ebola have been reported.

The director of the Bikoro Hospital, dr. Serge Ngalebato said he and other health officials have been vaccinated for protection so they can treat patients with the disease.

"We who are at the forefront of nursing," Dr. Ngalebato in a telephone interview. "We are calm."

Those vaccinated on Monday included three doctors at the Bikoro Hospital, two health professionals, two nurses, a representative of the women in the community, and a representative from a group of forestry hunter-gatherers. [19659002] Congo's vaccine campaign, which began last week in Mbandaka, targets more than 1,000 health professionals and people who have had contact with patients in three health zones. More than 360 people were vaccinated before Monday, said a Health Ministry spokeswoman, Jessica Ilunga.

On Monday, Congo officials said there were 54 cases of hemorrhagic fever: 35 were confirmed Ebola cases, 13 were likely cases and six were suspected

In the midst of concern over the spread of Ebola, several schools in the Iboko Health Zone, about 112 miles southeast of Mbandaka, closed, according to reports from Radio Okapi, a United Nations-backed station.

Many residents in one of Iboko's localities told Radio Okapi that they preferred to stay home to avoid infection after the death of a woman who had Ebola near Bobala.

One resident said they first thought rumors were becoming reality with the death of the woman and were too scared to interact with her neighbors. Four confirmed Ebola deaths have taken place in the Health Zone of Iboko, according to the Congolese Ministry of Health.

Several school leaders in the area also said that they would suspend school activities to protect children.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in the Congo since 1976, when the haemorrhagic fever was first identified.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches and sometimes internal and external bleeding. The virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain.

Ebola is first transmitted to humans from wild animals, including bats and monkeys. It is spread through contact with the body fluids of the infected, including the dead.


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