DR Congo starts Ebola vaccinations in east of country

Thursday October 14 2021
DRC Ebola

Nurses working with the World Health Organisation administer Ebola vaccine to a local doctor in Mbandaka, DR Congo, on May 21, 2018. PHOTO | AFP


Vaccination against the deadly Ebola disease began on Wednesday in the Democratic Republic of Congo's eastern city of Beni, the WHO said, five days after reports of a new case.

The fresh case was reported in North Kivu, the same province where the vaccination programme began.

"People at high risk, including contacts of the confirmed case and first responders, will receive the doses as the health authorities move to curb the spread of the virus," said a World Health Organisation statement.

The new case, confirmed on October 8, was of a two-year-old boy who had died two days earlier in a local clinic, the statement added.

He was from the same community where three family members had died in September after experiencing Ebola-like symptoms.

Around a thousand doses of the rVSV-ZEBOV Ebola vaccine were delivered to the eastern city of Goma for distribution, said the WHO -- and Kinshasa had more if required.


The government in Kinshasa announced the return of the disease in the east of the country on Friday.

In early May, the DRC declared the end of its 12th Ebola outbreak, during which 12 cases were reported, with six deaths and hundreds of people vaccinated.

The disease had reappeared in February in an area of North Kivu that between August 2018 and June 2020 experienced the largest outbreak of Ebola in the history of the DRC -- with 3,470 infections and 2,287 deaths.  

Ebola is a viral haemorrhagic fever that was first identified in central Africa in 1976. The disease was named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, then known as Zaire. 

Human transmission is through body fluids, with the main symptoms being fever, vomiting, bleeding and diarrhoea.