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Ekeomah Atuonwu

The Democratic Republic of the Congo launched a vaccination campaign on Wednesday after two people died of Ebola in the northwestern town of Mbandaka, according to the World Health Organization’s Africa office.

Earlier, AEM had reported that this is the 14th outbreak of the killer virus in the country since 1976, with six occurring in 2018.

“Over the years, with the support of WHO and other partners and donors, the country has developed homegrown expertise capable of mounting an effective Ebola response,” the UN’s health arm said in a statement.

Ebola is a viral hemorrhagic fever that was discovered in 1976 in Central Africa. The disease was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which was then known as Zaire.

Human transmission occurs via bodily fluids, with the most common symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding, and diarrhoea.

 Plastic sheet separates a mother from her son at an Ebola treatment centre in North Kivu province, eastern DRC /UN Media/

More than 200 doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine have been shipped from the eastern city of Goma to Mbandaka, in Equator province, with more doses expected in the coming days.

The “ring strategy” is used in the vaccination campaign, in which all contacts of confirmed Ebola patients, as well as contacts of contacts, are vaccinated alongside frontline and health workers.

The first of the two confirmed deaths occurred on April 21, when a young man died in a hospital.

According to WHO, 233 contacts have been identified in the Mbandaka area and are being monitored.

In addition, a 20-bed Ebola treatment center has been established in the town.

According to experts, Ebola epidemics have become cyclical since 2018, with outbreaks occurring from April to June in Equator province and in the following months in the northeastern provinces of Kivu and Ituri.

Nine people died from Ebola in Beni, North Kivu, last year, out of 11 cases.

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Ekeomah Atuonwu

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