Ebola has infected dozens so far in Congo, killing 19, World Health Organization says

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After that, vaccination of health care workers and people who have been in contact with cases will begin. "As further information becomes available, the risk assessment will be reviewed", the health organization added.

In addition, an experimental ebola vaccine, which was developed during the 2014 to 2016 Ebola epidemic but was too late to make an impact, will be deployed by the World Health Organization in the DRC.

Despite its isolation, the outbreak's epicenter is just three hours by road to a city of 1 million people, and public health officials are concerned it could spread, The New York Times reports. Called ring vaccination, it calls for vaccinating people who have been in contact with patients, and contacts of contacts.

The World Health Organization said there have been 39 confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola over the past five weeks as the virus spreads across three rural areas covering almost 40 miles in the northwest part of the country.

"The WHO is strengthening its presence, positioning a dozen epidemiologists who will be divided on the axes of Mbandaka, Bikoro and Iboko to investigate alerts", its Congo representative, Allarangar Yokouide, said.

The nation is prone to Ebola outbreaks due to its close proximity to the Congo River. Of the 34 suspected cases, two were confirmed, 18 have been classified as probable and 12 remains suspected cases. The 2014-2016 outbreak in West Africa involved major urban areas as well as rural ones. While outbreaks in remote areas usually mean the disease can be contained, on this occasion suspected cases have been reported in three locations spread over 60km.

Any other persons with potential exposure to Ebola, such as laboratory workers, surveillance and contact teams, will also be vaccinated.

The WHO obtained 4,000 doses of the vaccine, and on May 13, was already preparing to send them, along with specialists, to the African country.

"This is not a simple logistical effort; it's not like doing a polio campaign with oral polio vaccines, where we get it immediately out to the field". The virus is then passed between humans through blood or bodily fluids, like saliva, sweat, urine, semen, or breast milk.

The Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is coordinating the response.

M-decins Sans Fronti-res has set up four five-bed mobile isolation units to increase the hospital bed capacity in Bikoro, which is now 15 beds.

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