Increasing concern as Ebola outbreak spreads to city in DR Congo

Congolese Health Ministry officials carry the first batch of experimental Ebola vaccines in Kinshasa

The latest outbreak of Ebola has spread to a large city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the country's health minister.

Spokeswoman Jessica Ilunga says the vaccines will be sent to Mbandaka and Bikoro, the rural areas where two confirmed cases and several suspected cases have been reported.

The city is a major transportation hub with routes to the capital Kinshasa, the BBC reports.

It can spread rapidly through contact with small amounts of bodily fluid and its early flu-like symptoms are not always obvious.

Staff of medical aid organization Doctors without Borders carry the body of a person killed by viral haemorrhagic fever, at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guinea.


"Since the announcement of the alert in Mbandaka, our epidemiologists are working in the field with community relays to identify people who have been in contact with suspected cases", he said.

Before the latest confirmed case, Peter Salama, the WHO's deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response, said the current number of suspected, probable or confirmed cases stood at 42, with 23 deaths attributed to the outbreak.

Before this announcement, all confirmed Ebola cases were reported in the Bikoro health zone, where health facilities are limited and affected areas are hard to reach.

"This is a concerning development", World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in the statement. It involves vaccinating voluntary contacts, contacts of those contacts and health care and other front-line workers.

It is the ninth time Ebola has been recorded in the DRC.

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