Ebola Zaire Identified In North Kivu Outbreak; Health Officials Plan Use Of Vaccine Amid Logistical, Safety Challenges

Associated Press: Response to Congo’s new Ebola outbreak ‘highly complex’
“The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies says the response to the new Ebola virus outbreak in Congo’s North Kivu province will be ‘highly complex’ given the armed unrest in the region…” (8/2).

New York Times: The Latest Ebola Outbreak Is Centered in a War Zone
“…North Kivu Province, the volatile region in the Democratic Republic of Congo where the new outbreak is centered, creates security complications that health officials did not confront in the outbreak they just defeated in northwest Équateur Province, 1,550 miles away. The World Health Organization is worried about the safety of medical workers in North Kivu and their access to areas controlled by militants…” (Specia, 8/2).

Reuters: WHO sees complex vaccine and security questions in Ebola response
“…It will be complicated and perhaps impossible to use a vaccine to tackle Democratic Republic of Congo’s new Ebola outbreak, the World Health Organization’s emergency response chief said on Thursday. … Armored personnel carriers and support from U.N. peacekeepers may be needed, making it very difficult to deploy the kind of far-reaching contact tracing used in the previous outbreak…” (Miles, 8/2).

STAT: Ebola outbreak in DRC sets up another test for experimental treatments
“…Officials in the DRC said Thursday that testing has shown that the virus causing disease in North Kivu province in the northeast of the country is Ebola Zaire. That is the virus targeted by Merck’s experimental vaccine, which was tested during the West African outbreak in 2014 and 2015, and used in eastern DRC in an outbreak earlier this year. … [Peter Salama, the head of the World Health Organization’s emergency response program,] said consideration is being given to an ‘out-in strategy,’ which would create a ring around an area where there had been cases, rather than trying to find and vaccinated specific individuals. The idea would be to start ‘with a protective buffer around a whole geographical zone,’ and then moving inward, offering vaccine to everyone in the area…” (Branswell, 8/3).

Additional coverage of this story is available from Newsweek, NPR, Reuters (2), Science, and VOA News.