1 June 2017

Congo-Kinshasa: WHO, DR Congo Approve Ebola Vaccine to Stop Outbreak

- Researchers investigate possible link between pigs, current EVD cases

- Nigeria's meningitis epidemic now under control, says NCDC

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and regulatory and ethics review boards in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have approved the use of an experimental Ebola vaccine to combat the ongoing outbreak of the virus.

The officials announced, yesterday, in the journal Nature that if they decide to deploy the vaccine, called rVSV-ZEBOV, healthcare workers would offer it to those at highest risk of contracting the disease.

Assistant Director-General of Health Systems and Innovation at WHO's headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, Marie-Paule Kieny, said officials have confirmed only two cases of Ebola since they started getting reports of people with Ebola-like symptoms in late April. There are 17 suspected cases in the DRC awaiting a diagnosis, as of an update from the WHO dated May 28. Sixty-seven per cent of the computer simulations run by officials predict that there will be no further cases in the next month.

Also, scientists and public health officials are investigating whether pigs are somehow involved in the Ebola outbreak now underway in a remote region of the DRC. If so, it would add a new -- but not totally unexpected-- chapter to the virus's turbulent history.

According to a report issued yesterday by the DRC's Ministry of Health, scientists' interest stems from two data points. An epidemiological investigation has indicated that the first person to fall sick was a hunter who had come into contact with a wild boar carcass. And 84 pigs have recently died in eight villages in Nambwa, the epicentre of the current outbreak. Researchers have taken samples from those animals, according to the report, which says a "protocol for investigation of unusual deaths reported in pigs is under-development."

Also, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) yesterday said that the ongoing epidemic of Cerebro Spinal Meningitis (CSM) that affected 25 states, infected over 11,000 persons and killed about 1,000 is now under control.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NCDC, Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, told The Guardian: "I can tell you now that the situation is getting better. In fact, we have been able to bring down the numbers. We are going to release official figures by Friday this week."

We have arrested the situation."


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