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09 August 2018, 01:14 | Rodolfo Wallace
Merck's Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV was used in"ring vaccination during Congo's previous outbreak this year
The experimental vaccine, which is manufactured by Merck, proved successful during its first wide-scale usage against an outbreak in north-western Congo that was declared over less than two weeks ago.
The World Health Organization confirmed this weekend 13 Ebola cases and noted an additional 30 likely cases, including 33 deaths, in eastern DRC near the border with Uganda.
But workers were still able to travel hundreds of miles by motorbike to trace people who had come into contact with the virus, a vital part of its containment.
Using the remaining vaccine doses in the new outbreak is "common sense", a DRC Ministry of Public Health spokesperson tells ScienceInsider, because both scientific and ethical committees have already given the go ahead to continue to study the effectiveness of the vaccine.
But the new outbreak in the East of the DRC is on track to dwarf the one that sparked worldwide panic in earlier this summer in the North West.
"In total, 43 cases of haemorrhagic fever have been reported in the (Beni) region, including 16 confirmed and 27 probable, and 46 suspected cases are under investigation", the ministry said Tuesday.
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Three healthcare workers have been struck down by Ebola, of whom one has died.
There are 33 additional "suspected cases" in the North Kivu outbreak that are pending lab test results to "confirm or exclude Ebola virus disease", according to WHO.
"This is an active conflict zone".
North Kivu province is home to more than 1 million people displaced people amid fighting between the government and militant groups. The major barrier will be safely accessing the affected population'.
"Since we are coming out of another Ebola outbreak, we have kept staff and equipment in place", said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa in a WHO statement: "This allows us to have a head start in response to this cluster". This is its tenth outbreak of the virus.
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