Ebola Vaccinations to Begin Sunday in Congo - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Ebola Vaccinations to Begin Sunday in Congo

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Courtesy: Athalia Christie / CC BY 2.0 Courtesy: Athalia Christie / CC BY 2.0

The World Health Organization says vaccinations are planned to begin on Sunday in the Ebola outbreak in Congo.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus is speaking to reporters after an experts' meeting to determine whether the epidemic warrants being declared a global health emergency.

Congo's latest Ebola outbreak now has 14 confirmed cases as health officials rush to contain the often deadly virus in a city of more than 1 million.

Medical teams hurried to track down anyone thought to have had contact with infected people as this vast, impoverished nation - a veteran of eight previous Ebola outbreaks - for the first time is fighting the virus in an urban area.

"We are entering a new phase of the Ebola outbreak that is now affecting three health zones, including an urban health zone," Ilunga said, adding he was worried because Mbandaka is densely populated and at the crossroads of Equateur province.

The city of almost 1.2 million is on the Congo River, a busy travel corridor in the vast country and upstream from the capital, Kinshasa, a city of about 10 million. Mbandaka is an hour's plane ride from Kinshasa or a four-to-seven-day trip by river barge, according to a map issued Thursday by the United Nations.

"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," Ilunga said. WHO said it was deploying about 30 experts to conduct surveillance in the city.

The aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said 514 people who are thought to have been in contact with infected people were now being monitored.

This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976, when the deadly disease was first identified.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola, which is spread through the bodily fluids of people exhibiting symptoms or those who have died from the disease. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding.

Without preventive measures, the virus can spread quickly and is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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