Uganda starts Ebola vaccination for high-risk health workers

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It is the first time an Ebola outbreak has occurred in DRC's far northeast, where multiple rebel groups are active. The fear of transmission of the infection via the borders is heightened by the armed conflicts in the region, say officials. In some cases, the virus is spread through contact with someone who has died from the disease.

The World Health Organization, CDC and other global health organizations say they are anxious about the current Ebola outbreak spreading to port cities like Butembo, which will only exacerbate infection transmission rates.

The vaccine that is being administered is still experimental but has been shown to be protective in the clinical trials.

According to the World Health Organization, until November 1 there were 279 cases of Ebola infection in the DRC, 244 confirmed by laboratory tests, 179 people died as a result of the disease and 81 people were able to recover.

A total of 2,100 doses of Merck's "rVSV-Ebola" vaccine candidate will be administered to the health workers to protect them against the type of Ebola virus strain that is now circulating in some parts of DRC.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, will visit the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from November 5 to 9, where several regions suffer the appearance of Ebola.

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The five districts prone to the disease include Ntoroko where the drive will start from on Wednesday, Kabarole, Bunyangabu, Kasese, and Buindibugyo.

While the vaccine is not available for public use and is considered experimental, it's being handed out under a compassionate use program, the World Health Organization said.

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

"The affected areas in the DRC [North Kivu and Ituri provinces] are about 100km from Uganda's border districts", she said. An undiagnosed Ebola patient could present to a health facility in Uganda for medical attention. "This context puts the healthcare and frontline workers in Uganda at risk of being in contact with an [Ebola] case".

Uganda has for the first time imitated a vaccination drive against Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever (EHF) as a preventive measure against the disease that has for the past months ravaged neighbours, DR Congo. In 2000 and 2001, 574 people were infected and 261 died in Uganda.

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