Latest Ebola outbreak is Zaire strain, vaccinations to start

Traffic in the city of Mbandaka in northwest Congo in May 2018 during a previos Ebola outbreak

Traffic in the city of Mbandaka in northwest Congo in May 2018 during a previos Ebola outbreak

The first to be vaccinated are health workers, contacts of confirmed Ebola cases and their contacts in what is called a ring vaccination campaign.

Health officials have warned that containing the outbreak in North Kivu province is complicated by the presence of multiple armed groups vying for mineral-rich land in the northeastern region that borders Uganda and Rwanda.

DR Congo health minister Oly Ilunga had said: "The government knew this outbreak presented a higher risk than last year's (smaller) outbreak due to the fact the health workers were among the first victims".

The Democratic Republic of Congo on August 1, 2018 reported an outbreak of Ebola in the east of the vast country, barely a week after it had declared the end to an outbreak in the northwest.

A Reuters witness on a visit to Mangina, the village in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo where the epidemic was declared, saw health workers in protective suits administering the injections. The strategy is the same that was used to contain the previous outbreak in Equateur province, with more than 3,300 people vaccinated.

World Health Organization has said that analysis of genetic sequencing showed it was a new outbreak - separate from the one 2,500 km (1,500 miles) away in the northwest that ended less than two weeks ago after killing 33 - but the same Zaire strain.

"The disease, which causes fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, is spread through direct contact with body fluids".

Nearly 1,000 people who have had "contact" with the virus have been registered in health zones under surveillance, it said.

Ebola jumps to humans from animals including bats and monkeys.

"There is a huge fear among the local population", Kaswera Mathumo, a medical worker at a clinic in Mangina, where the vaccinations were taking place, said.

Health workers are using an experimental vaccine, manufactured by Merck.

There is no specific treatment, and the virus can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases, depending on the strain.

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