Ebola vaccinations begin in rural Congo on Monday: Ministry

The WHO is organising ebola vaccinations in the port city of Mbandaka

Two dying Ebola patients were spirited out of a Congo hospital by their relatives on motor-bikes, then taken to a prayer meeting with 50 other people, potentially exposing them all to the deadly virus, a senior aid worker said on Thursday.

The other confirmed cases are in the rural areas of Bikoro and Iboko. "That is another challenge", WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told Wednesday's session during the agency's annual World Health Assembly.

Ebola responders in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are revealing more about local practices and community mistrust, which in some instances are hampering the actions needed to curb the spread of the disease in the country's outbreak hot spots.

This support has already led to vast improvements in the speed and effectiveness of the Government of DRC and WHO's response to the current outbreak.

The patients had help from family members in leaving the hospital as the death toll reaches at least 27 from the Ebola outbreak.

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When Ebola hit West Africa in 2014, some of the obstacles that impeded the medical response included lack of trust among communities dealing with outbreaks and religious practices - such as washing the body of the dead - that spread the disease, which is contagious through bodily fluids.

Salama said the outbreak has three or four epicentres, making containment more challenging.

"The detective work of epidemiology will make or break the response to this outbreak", Salama said.

WHO said the mission led by Riek Gai Kok, the minister of health, updated the governor of the state of Yambio, cabinets, members of the parliament, United Nations agencies and NGOs including members of the public on how the EVD is transmitted and the preventive measures that can be taken such as sensitizing the community through mobile messaging and ongoing TV, radio and print mass traditional and non-traditional communication campaigns.

At least 27 people have been killed by the virus since the first outbreak in early May
At least 27 people have been killed by the virus since the first outbreak in early MayEPA

Ebola has the potential to devastate a country - that's why we need an expert and rapid response to this outbreak, led by the DRC government, and in partnership with the World Health Organization and global community to tackle this deadly virus.

Doctors are especially anxious because, with a population of over 1 million people, Mbandaka is extremely susceptible to a fast-moving Ebola outbreak.

"The next few weeks will really tell if this outbreak is going to expand to urban areas or if we are going to be able to keep it under control", he added.

The US also deployed 2,800 military personnel to West Africa where they built 10 Ebola treatment facilities as well as a medical unit for infected health care workers.

The article notes that Ebola is a "neglected tropical disease" since an effective vaccine is relatively new and the disease was discovered over 40 years ago.

Those infected with Ebola can suffer from severe internal bleeding, fever, diarrhea and vomiting. "The quicker patients are admitted, the greater their chance of survival and. of limiting the spread of Ebola".

Also, the worldwide community and global health groups have stepped forward with $59.6 million in support for the DRC's outbreak, far exceeding the WHO's May 18 request of $26 million to support its activities.

The cases represent a setback to costly efforts to contain the virus, including the use of an experimental vaccine, and show efforts to stem its spread can be hampered by age-old customs or scepticism about the threat it poses. The WHO says that they have a total of 58 confirmed cases of the disease. WHO is working with the country's Ministry of Health, Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) and other partners to inoculate only those people at high risk of infection: primary and secondary contacts. The programme also contains an additional contingency mechanism, to be drawn upon in the event of serious outbreaks, and use of which is allowing the United Kingdom to respond swiftly to the current situation in the DRC.

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