Ebola case confirmed in Democratic Republic of Congo

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He was a man who presented himself with a high fever last month at a local clinic and was told to travel to the nearest hospital for tests.

The outbreak reportedly started around April 22 in the Bas-Uele province, about 1,300 km (800 miles) northeast of the capital city of Kinshasa. A total of nine cases, including three deaths are so far being investigated.

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

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

"There are 300,000 doses of Ebola vaccine available if needed to stop this outbreak becoming a pandemic", said Dr. Seth Berkley, whose World Health Organization team developed the vaccine in collaboration with Merck.

The last Ebola outbreak in the DRC occurred in 2014 and left 40 people dead. Congo's outbreaks have all been in areas not linked to the the West African cases.

That outbreak, which took 49 lives, was unrelated to the West African outbreak of Ebola that happened concurrently.

During that outbreak, which was declared a "public health emergency of worldwide concern" by the WHO, the Western Hemisphere also saw its first Ebola patients. Almost 29,000 total cases, 15,000 of which were confirmed in a lab, were reported in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea in what was the deadliest outbreak of the disease in history. Each of the last three Congolese outbreaks of Ebola over the past decade was contained with less than 100 cases. The country has been hit by Ebola about nine times in all.

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

The vaccine is now awaiting formal licensing clearance.

One person helping with the response who asked not to be identified said there are now 52 suspected cases-and deep frustration that a decision has yet to be made about whether to use the vaccine. But 23 cases occurred among those in a control group whose vaccination had been delayed. It concluded that the vaccine "most likely provides some protection", but the protection might be "quite low".

Distributed by APO on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO).

"The WHO and others will determine if and when deployment of vaccine into this outbreak is warranted", it said in a statement.

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