Nurse dead in Congo as Ebola vaccination campaign starts

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On Monday, the World Health Organization, together with local and global partners, began administering Ebola vaccinations in the region, where at least 49 suspected cases have been reported since early April and at least 26 people are believed to have died.

Guillaume Ngoie Mwamba, director of the Expanded Program on Immunization, was the first Congolese to receive the vaccine in Mbandaka.

Fifty-one suspected cases of the virus, including 28 confirmed and 21 probable, have been recorded since the outbreak was declared in Equateur on May 8, according to the ministry.

The DRC has faced nine outbreaks of the haemmorhagic fever since it was discovered along the country's Ebola River in 1976. More than 7500 doses are available in Congo, WHO said on Monday, and another 8000 doses will be available in the coming days.

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Rimoin is the lead author of a study published previous year, which reported that some of the survivors of the first documented Ebola outbreak in 1976 still have antibodies against the virus.

World Health Organization indicates that the vaccine was quite successful in Guinea in 2015, when no cases of Ebola were recorded nine days or more after 5,837 were immunised.

Speaking on how much difference the vaccine will make towards improving the situation, the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said, "Vaccination will be key to controlling this outbreak".

More than 7,500 doses of the Ebola vaccine have been shipped to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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The vaccination drive started a day after the health ministry announced that a nurse had died from Ebola in Bikoro.

Dozens of health workers in the northwestern provincial capital, Mbandaka, have received vaccinations amid expectations that some will be deployed to the rural epicenter of the epidemic. One of the major challenges surrounding the vaccine will be to keep it in properly cold conditions in the DRC's tropical climate. The Cabinet also endorsed the decision to provide free health care in the affected areas and to provide special care to all Ebola victims and their relatives. It takes a week to 10 days, said Dr Pierre Rollin, an epidemiologist with the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and a veteran of more than a dozen Ebola outbreaks. The virus is initially transmitted to people from wild animals, including bats and monkeys. It is spread via contact with the bodily fluids of those infected.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in Congo warned that the outbreak is far from over.

The city of around 1.2 million people lies on the Congo River, where it is a transport hub to Brazzaville and Kinshasa downstream and to Bangui, upstream.

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Early diagnosis and treatment is the best solution for patients who have contracted the Ebola virus. These include fever, headache, muscle pain, weakness and fatigue and become more serious - diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain and unexplained bleeding or bruising. The disease is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.