Comes a day after the health ministry announced that a nurse has died from Ebola in Bikoro.
KINSHASA, Congo.- Congo began an Ebola vaccination campaign Monday in a northwest provincial capital in a major effort to stem an outbreak that has already made its way from rural towns into a city of more than 1 million people. The campaign comes a day after the health ministry announced that a nurse has died from Ebola in Bikoro, the rural northwestern town where the outbreak began and was first announced in early May. The death toll is now 27.
There are 49 hemorrhagic fever cases: 22 confirmed as Ebola, 21 probable and six suspected, according to Health Minister Oly Ilunga. “We have established surveillance mechanisms and are following all cases and contacts,” he said. “The response is wellorganized because we have also put in surveillance measures at the entry and exit points of Mbandaka.” In a hopeful sign, two patients who were confirmed as positive for Ebola have recovered, and are returning to their homes though they will be monitored, Ilunga said.
They have left the hospital “with a medical certificate attesting that they’ve recovered and can no longer transmit the disease because they have developed antibodies against Ebola,” he said. Ebola, however, does in many cases remain longer in semen, and therefore can be transmitted through sexual contact for some months after recovery.
Congo’s health delegation, including the health minister and representatives of the World Health Organization and the United Nations, have arrived in Mbandaka, the northwestern city of 1.2 million where Ebola has spread, to launch the vaccination campaign Monday. Dr. Eric Ekutshu, a doctor in the Wangata health zone in Mbandaka, received the vaccine Monday as part of a ceremony presided over by officials.