Congo, UN deploy specialists to tackle Ebola epidemic

WHO gets approval to use Ebola vaccine in DRC

19 Dead, 39 Sick in New Outbreak: Death Rate at 50 Percent

Meanwhile information about the outbreak in towns like Bikoro, Iboko and Wangata health zones in Equateur province was still limited, according to the WHO.

All of that changed back in 2014 with the massive outbreak that spread throughout the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

A further 362 people at risk have been identified using contact tracing, said Dr. Ibrahima-Soce Fall, WHO regional emergency director for Africa.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday that use of the vaccine could begin by the end of this week.

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Direct Relief is closely monitoring this outbreak situation in conjunction with healthcare partners at the UCLA-DRC Health Research and Training Program which is conducting Ebola virus research at the Institute National de Recherche Biomedicale. In this case, the remoteness of Bikoro - some 240km by dilapidated road southwest of the provincial capital of Mbandaka, a city of about a million people - may both aid and complicate containment efforts.

Three health care workers are among those who have been infected.

The WHO has put Congo's nine neighbouring countries on high alert, especially the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic due to their connected river systems.

Although the DRC outbreak is of a different strain, the experimental vaccine is still thought to be safe and effective.

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According to both Stat and Reuters, the DRC granted the World Health Organization approval to use the investigational recombinant vesicular stomatitis virus-Zaire Ebola virus (rVSV-ZEBOV) in a ring vaccination targeting close contacts of Ebola patients.

Last week, Peter Salama, deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response at the World Health Organization, pointed out that use of the vaccine comes with many challenges, as it needs to be stored long-term at temperatures between minus 60 and minus 80 degrees Celsius (minus 76 to minus 112 Fahrenheit). Some deaths occurring as early as January have not yet been linked to the epidemic. "We have better weapons this time".

Ebola is a viral hemorrhagic fever that predominantly affects humans and nonhuman primates, like monkeys, gorillas, and chimpanzees, according to the CDC. Seventeen of those 21 infected people died. The virus spreads through bodily fluids, including vomit and blood. CFRs typically hover around 50 percent, although children under the age of 5 are much more likely to die as a result of exposure to the virus.

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