Health workers in Uganda started vaccinating high-risk health workers against the deadly Ebola virus infection this week. This is the first time you have started a vaccination path before the actual outbreak.
This caution is being taken because health workers are worried that the infection will spread to the country from the borders shared with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. At present the outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is in the worst case. The fear of transmission of infection across borders is increased by armed conflicts in the region, officials say.
Ebola virus attacks the immune system illustration: Image credit: Crevis / Shutterstock
In the DRC to date, this season, about 300 cases of Ebola have been suspected, with 265 confirmed cases of the disease. The report by the World Health Organization (WHO) says that to date the infection killed 151 individuals in the country. In a statement, WHO says: "In the vaccination of first-line health workers against Ebola virus disease even before Uganda detects a single case, health authorities are being cautious after learning bitter lessons from earlier outbreaks."
The vaccine that is being administered is still experimental, but has proven to be protective in clinical trials. It will be administered only around 2000 first contact medical workers working near the German Democratic Republic's borders in the North Kivu province, say the WHO and would not be available to the general public.
"It is very likely that Uganda could import Ebola virus disease from the DRC, taking into account the proximity of the current epicenter, the high demographic movements due to trade, sociocultural connections and the easy accessibility of health services in Uganda," he told WHO . DRC individuals who were in contact with a Ebola patient were vaccinated and those who were in contact with these contacts were also vaccinated. This is called the "ring vaccination strategy" and is an effective method to eradicate highly contagious infectious diseases, officials say.
Yonas Tegegn Woldemariam, the representative of Uganda, said: "In previous [Ebola] Outbreaks, Uganda lost health workers, including the renowned Dr. Matthew Lukwiya, since they worried about the patients. Scientists believe that such invaluable lives would be saved if a vaccine existed at that time. "
Jane Aceng, Uganda's health minister in a statement added: "The public health risk of transboundary Ebola transmission to Uganda [from DRC] It has been evaluated to be very high nationwide. Affected areas in DRC [North Kivu and Ituri provinces] There are about 100 km of border districts in Uganda. An undiagnosed Ebola patient could come to a health center in Uganda for medical attention. This context puts health and first-line workers in Uganda at risk of being in contact with one [Ebola] case ".
Ebola is a fatal viral infection that was detected and identified for the first time in 1976. Since then there have been regular outbreaks in the countries of Central and Western Africa. Uganda was previously affected in 2000 and 2001, where the infection killed 261 and infected 574 individuals. The infection killed 11,000 dead in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea and infected 28,000 in the period between 2014 and 2016.
The infection is capable of killing between 20 and 70 percent of those who are infected depending on the tension of the virus. Once they are only infected, the available management is a supportive therapy. There are some therapies based on experimental antibodies that are trying to treat the disease. Some of these combinations include ZMapp, REGN-EB3, remediviral antiviral drug and a single antibody drug called mAb114.
This last vaccine to be administered was developed by Merck and is not yet licensed.