Ebola is suspected to have caused as many as 33 deaths during the latest outbreak of the virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the health ministry said.
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This is the 10th time since 1976 that Ebola has threatened the Democratic Republic of Congo, The Times reported. According to The Associated Press, Health Minister Oly Illunga Kalengatold the media that there are 16 confirmed cases of the haemorrhagic fever, 27 probable cases and 31 suspected ones. Barthe Ndjoloko, who oversees the health ministry's Ebola response, tells Reuters that health workers and individuals who have come in contact with people infected with Ebola will be vaccinated.
Although they were anxious then that the virus might have traveled to other regions because of its close proximity to the Congo river, there is no evidence yet suggesting that the new outbreak is related to the former outbreak in Bikoro. Trade activities between the countries result in frequent cross-border movement. But as of then, the ministry said there were 43 reported cases and 33 deaths.
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Health experts in the city closest to the new outbreak, Beni, have been setting up "cold chains" to keep the vaccines at the optimal temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius, a challenge in a region with hot temperatures and unreliable power supplies. Also, the outbreak is thought to be the Zaire strain of Ebola virus. More than 3,000 doses remain in stock in the capital Kinshasa, allowing authorities to deploy them quickly to affected areas near the Ugandan border.
More than 900 contacts have been traced and registered in affected zones, as health workers take steps to stop the spread of the disease to neighbouring regions and countries.
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Despite that Ebola is never an easy illness to combat, the current outbreak is much more hard than previous ones primarily because of the location in which it appeared.