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The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has also mobilized doctors, sanitation and hygiene specialists, to help contain the spread of the disease.

The initial focus will be on surveillance and understanding the extent of the outbreak; safe burials; case by case management; and preparing for any public health measures deemed necessary in terms of vaccination.

Congo's long experience of Ebola and its vast, remote geography mean outbreaks are often localised and relatively easy to isolate and snuff out.

No travel restrictions have been imposed‚ but the outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is a reminder to travellers and medical personnel from SA to ensure their vaccinations are up to date.

Reports say World Health Organization is moving quickly, having been criticised for bungling its response to a 2014-2016 outbreak that killed more than 11,300 people in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The ministry was alerted to the likelihood of Ebola at Bikoro on May 3 after 17 people died from hemorrhagic fever over the preceding five weeks, which led it to test the five patients suspected of carrying the virus. In certain areas of the DRC-including where Ebola has been reported recently-the disease can now be considered endemic in reservoir animals, he says.

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Both confirmed Ebola cases came from the iIkoko Iponge health facility located about 30 kilometers from Bikoro.

Ebola viruses probably spread in bats most of the time, but they do occasionally "jump" to other species such as deer, monkeys or humans. On Thursday, Congo announced another Ebola-linked death - the first since the rescissions request - and said that nine new cases had emerged. Some 462 million people are living in the areas affected by Ebola virus outbreaks, many of them in very remote rural areas.

The agency was criticized for its slow response to the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, which was the largest in history. "It's completely different", Fall said, adding that this response was also faster than that in Congo past year. The last death in the cluster was reported in February, and so far investigators haven't turned up an epidemiologic links between the previous and current outbreaks. It's symptoms are high fever, bleeding, diarrhoea and red eyes, among others.

Most of the cases so far have been recorded around the village of Ikoko Impenge, near the northwestern town of Bikoro.

"We are in close communication with our partners including the World Health Organisation, who are in Congo to monitor and respond to the situation".

Ebola is a deadly, fast-spreading disease that kills its sufferers in a matter of days.


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