Vaccine alliance says 300000 doses of Merck's Ebola shot available for emergencies

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Congo has had plenty of experience in containing and eliminating Ebola outbreaks in recent years.

The DR Congo's Health Ministry notified WHO on Thursday, May 11 that one person had tested positive for the Ebola virus and that individual had died. The outbreak began 22 April in the Likati Health Zone of the Bas Uele Province, which is in the northern region of the DRC that borders the Central African Republic.

An Ebola epidemic has been declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo after three people died.

Health minister Oly Illunga has urged the population not to panic.

The country "has taken all necessary measures to responde quickly and efficiently to this new outbreak", he said.

Officials suspect that the two other deaths were also caused by the highly infectious virus, which spreads through contact with bodily fluids.

"We always take this very seriously", the WHO's Congo spokesman, Eugene Kabambi, said.

The Ebola virus is an infectious hemorrhagic fever first discovered in 1976.

It was declared no longer an emergency in March 2016.

Colleen Kraft, MD, associate professor of infectious diseases at Emory University, told CIDRAP News that the outbreak is behaving like outbreaks those that came before West Africa's massive event. "The vaccine has shown high efficacy in clinical trials and could play a vital role in protecting the most vulnerable". An experimental vaccine was recently developed that World Health Organization says could be used in emergencies.

It said the health zone at Likati some 1,300 km from Kinshasa was very hard to access but stressed it was crucial to pinpoint who had had contact with those affected in order to nip the latest outbreak in the bud.

Marie-Paule Kieney, an assistant director general at World Health Organization who played a central role during the West African epidemic, says Merck, the maker of the vaccine that appeared to work in a trial held in Guinea in 2015, is ready to provide the product if necessary.

The outbreak was the worst case of Ebola virus disease epidemic in history, according to medical authorities.