Over 600 cases of Ebola in Congo and 268 deaths, health ministry reports

A World Health Organization worker prepares to administer Ebola vaccination during the launch of an experimental vaccine in Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of the Congo. On Wednesday the country's health ministry reported 608 Ebola cases and 268 deaths since the latest outbreak began in August. EPA-EFE/STR

Jan. 2 (UPI) — Over 600 cases of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been reported since August, the country’s health ministry said on Wednesday.

The number of probable patients is 608, with 368 deaths and 207 recoveries, and another 29 people are suspected of having the illness. Ebola typically kills about half of those infected, but the fatality rate in the latest outbreak is about 60 percent. A ministry statement added that 54,153 people have been treated with the Merck rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine, the only available vaccine to help stop the spread of the disease.

The World Health Organization reported last week that 18 healthcare workers have died of the disease.

Last week an unidentified American doctor who was exposed to Ebola while treating patients in the DRC was transported to the United States to be monitored. The situation in the DRC, notably in North Kivu province, is complicated by the presence of about 50 armed rebel groups in the country, as well as a malaria outbreak. As many as one million people have been internally displaced or are refugees to neighboring countries, potentially spreading the disease.

The latest Ebola epidemic is the second-deadliest in history. An outbreak in West Africa in 2014 killed 11,000 people before it was controlled.



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