Ebola vaccinations begin in Congo's northwest town of Bikoro

Death of Ebola Patients who Fled DRC Hospital Highlights Dangers

Death of Ebola Patients who Fled DRC Hospital Highlights Dangers

Bikoro Hospital director Dr. Serge Ngalebato said he and other health officials were vaccinated for protection when treating Ebola patients. About 100 health workers have been vaccinated there as front-line workers face high risk from the virus, which is spread via contact with the bodily fluids of those infected, including the dead.

The fight against the dreaded Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is being hampered by fear and suspicion of medical authorities, reports say.

Following the confirmation of multiple cases of Ebola, a team from ALIMA is now conducting an evaluation to determine the needs of the medical facilities and among the populations of the cities of Mbandaka and Iboko in the Equateur Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Complicating factors include its spread to a major city, that health workers are among those infected and the existence of three or four "separate epicenters", making finding and monitoring the contacts of infected people more hard. Four confirmed Ebola deaths have taken place in the Iboko health zone, according to Congo's health ministry.

"We need more programs and case studies of people who have died from the epidemic so that people can understand the seriousness of the epidemic that is already in a city like Mbandaka", said Mark Bolakofo, a Mbandaka resident, from Bikoro village, 130 km south of Mbandaka.

World Health Organization is using a "ring vaccination" approach, targeting the contacts of people infected or suspected of infection and then the contacts of those people.

Representatives of the World Health Organization and UNICEF accompanied the health minister. Right now, six-hundred contacts have been identified.

"I am personally committed to ensuring that we do everything we can to stop this outbreak as soon as possible", WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a meeting in Geneva on Saturday.

Ebola has broken out nine times since 1976 and is the origin of hemorrhagic fever.

There is no specific treatment for Ebola.

When Ebola hit the West African countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2013 and 2014, killing more than 11,000 people, suspicion of health workers in their spacesuit-like protective gear also prompted patients to flee, helping accelerate the disease's spread. Symptoms of Ebola include vomiting, fever, muscle pain, diarrhea, and external or internal bleeding.

"Some people don't believe in the Ebola virus or in the medication provided, others are afraid of it. Cases of people leaving hospitals and refusing care have been reported, which could have dramatic consequences".

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