Uganda begins Ebola vaccination for high-risk health workers

Horsemen of the Apocalypse War and Ebola in Eastern Congo

I have been responding to different disease outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for 18 years, yet I have never seen anything as challenging as containing Ebola in an armed-conflict zone.

In recent months Ebola cases have been confirmed near the heavily traveled border between Uganda and Congo, where 270 cases have been reported in the country's northeast since August.

Ugandan officials say twice-weekly market days _ during which 10,000 Congolese cross into Uganda _ have put the country at high risk.

Health workers are usually among the first to be infected in an Ebola outbreak.

The vaccination programme launches on Wednesday with support from the World Health Organization, targeting 2,000 frontline workers in districts close to DRC's North Kivu province, which is now experiencing an outbreak of the deadly virus.

According to the World Health Organization, no less than 2,100 doses of experimental rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine are now available in the east African country, while supplementary doses have been requested.

The World Health Organization, CDC and other worldwide health organizations say they are anxious about the current Ebola outbreak spreading to port cities like Butembo, which will only exacerbate infection transmission rates. Dozens more have died since then, according to a tally reported by Congo's health ministry.

"The virus has killed 186 people in the North Kivu and Ituri regions, while 88 others have been cured, " the ministry said on Monday.

With high fatality rates ranging from 50 per cent to 89 per cent, the highly contagious Ebola virus could cause a range of symptoms including fever, vomiting, diarrhoea, generalised pain or malaise and in many cases internal and external bleeding.

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