Second Ebola Case in Congo's Goma Infected Several People: Government

Rwanda closes part of its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo “to avoid unnecessary crossings.” REUTERS

Rwanda closes part of its border with the Democratic Republic of Congo “to avoid unnecessary crossings.” REUTERS

Researchers in Uganda announced they are testing Janssen Pharmaceuticals Ad26.ZEBOV/MVA-BN Ebola vaccine on 800 people.

Pontiano Kaleebu, a Ugandan researcher who is leading this trial, said 'he regrets that the Janssen vaccine has not yet been deployed in Congo'.

"If we continue on that basis, this epidemic could last two or three years", he told a news conference in Goma.

A fourth case of Ebola has been confirmed in the eastern Congo city of Goma, the government said late on Thursday, marking a rapid escalation of the disease in the city of more than 1 million people which borders Rwanda.

Earlier, Congolese health authorities confirmed that a third case had been diagnosed in Goma, increasing fears the virus could take root in the densely populated city, which lies more than 350 km (220 miles) south of where the outbreak was first detected.

The pastor's death and spread of the disease to Goma prompted the WHO to declare the outbreak an worldwide health emergency, sounding a rarely used global alarm bell. The current goal is to strengthen surveillance and bring the detection rate to 80%, he said. "The girl had already been showing signs of the disease", an Ebola response official told AFP on condition of anonymity. "Given the limited amount of vaccine that's available and the really concerning epi curves [rise in cases] we've seen over the last few weeks, I think we should be prepared for a long outbreak that will still go on for many months or years". "It's one of those vaccines that have shown a lot of promise in animal studies, but also in other trials that have been conducted".

One of the couple's daughters has also tested positive for Ebola though the government said on Friday two others were negative in preliminary checks. Juliet Mwanga, a co-investigator on the trial, said there is the need "to study many vaccines" in light of Congo's epidemic.

"I think there's still a risk of this being like the West Africa outbreak", says Ebola researcher Daniel Bausch in an interview with NPR. While it is now free of the virus, three people died in June after crossing into the country's Kasese district on an unguarded footpath. This includes an investigational vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV, to protect frontline workers and first and second-degree contacts of confirmed Ebola patients.

The Ebola virus causes fever, vomiting and severe diarrhoea, often followed by organ failure and internal and external bleeding.

Among key prevention measures are frequent washing of hands with clean water and soap, avoiding contact with blood and body fluids, as well as items that would have come in contact with an infected person's blood and body fluids.