Uganda vaccinates front-line health operatives against Ebola

Uganda vaccinates front-line health operatives against Ebola

The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.November 7, 2018 / 4:30 PM GMTBy Maggie FoxHealth workers started vaccinating people in Uganda against Ebola virus on Wednesday, the first time the vaccine has been given in a country before an outbreak even starts.Officials are afraid the virus is going to spread across the border from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where an outbreak is still worsening, fueled by armed conflict and frightened residents.

It follows the influx of refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo who are fleeing violence.

After entering the body, it kills cells, making some of them explode, it wrecks the immune system, causes heavy bleeding inside the body, and damages nearly every organ, though it is scary, but it's also rare.

At least 300 suspected cases have been reported in the DRC in the latest outbreak, with 265 confirmed. It is one of the world's most virulent diseases and is transmitted through direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids of infected people. It's caused 151 death so far, the World Health Organization said.

As the North Kivu province Ebola outbreak enters its fourth month, worldwide health officials are worrying if the combination of violence and insecurity in the area will render this outbreak past the point of control.

Healthcare responders may consider vaccinating broader populations in place of the current vaccination strategy, which focuses on vaccinating people who have been exposed to Ebola patients. "Scientists believe such invaluable lives would have been saved had a vaccine been in existence then".

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Anthony Mbonye, a professor of health sciences at Uganda's Makerere University, said the vaccinations are crucial to stemming transmission "in a highly endemic belt for hemorrhagic fevers".

The vaccination programme in this area is driven by fears about the disease spreading across the border between the two countries, the porousness of this border being a big concern, according to Grace Kiwanuka, executive director of the Uganda Healthcare Federation.

Ebola was first reported in Congo in 1976 and is named for the river where it was recognized. That number includes the 189 people killed. The worst outbreak was in Uganda in 2000 and 2001, when 574 people were infected and 261 died.

The infection is capable of killing 20 to 70 percent of those who are infected depending on the strain of virus. There are some experimental antibody based therapies that are being tried in treating the disease.

This Merck vaccine candidate rVSV-Ebola was also used in the Ebola outbreak in Equateur province in May-July 2018.

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