Uganda, at high risk for Ebola, starts vaccinating medics

Faith Castro
November 9, 2018

The World Health Organisation and health ministry in Uganda have started vaccinating frontline operatives against Ebola in five high-risk districts bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo.

186 total deaths have been reported.

A total of 2100 doses of "rVSV-Ebola" vaccine are to be administered to the health workers to protect them against Zaire type virus, the strain that is now circulating in some parts of DRC.

Contact tracing is still of concern due to insecurity and persistent community resistance. Since 2014, about 2,000 people have been killed in clashes between armed groups. The individuals in DRC who have been in contact with an Ebola patient have been vaccinated and those in contact with these contacts have also been vaccinated.

Health workers are usually among the first to be infected in an Ebola outbreak.

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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.

There are so far 239 confirmed cases in DRC in the latest flare-up, and 174 people have died from the disease.

"Compassionate use of the Ebola vaccine for health care and frontline workers", will begin on Monday, she told journalists. This is called the "ring vaccination strategy" and is an effective method of eradicating highly contagious infectious diseases, say the officials. There are four experimental treatments being tried out in DRC: ZMapp, a cocktail of antibodies that fight the virus; a second cocktail of antibodies called REGN-EB3; a single-antibody drug called mAb114; and an antiviral drug called remdesivir.Supportive care, including replacing fluids and electrolytes lost to diarrhea and vomiting, can also help keep patients alive.This is the second outbreak of Ebola in Congo this year.

This preventive exercise has begun in the Ntoroko district which is located in central Africa. The worst outbreak was in Uganda in 2000 and 2001, when 574 people were infected and 261 died. There are some experimental antibody based therapies that are being tried in treating the disease.

Although the "investigational vaccine" has not yet been licensed it was used in previous Ebola outbreaks in Guinea, Sierra Leone and DR Congo at the recommendation of the WHO's group of experts.

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