With the 14 confirmed Ebola cases in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the health officials are working towards controlling the Ebola outbreak in the city which has over 1 million people. Last May, a small outbreak resulted in five confirmed cases and four deaths in a province neighboring Equateur. Until Thursday, the more than 40 suspected or confirmed cases were all located in the area around Bikoro, close to the Congo River, and around 150 kilometres (about 95 miles) from the provincial capital Mbandaka, which is a busy port city.
There has been one new death in Bikoro, where the first death took place. It said the new death has epidemiologic ties to another case. Fourteen cases have been confirmed with laboratory tests.
"For now, the cold chain is guaranteed at -80°C degrees until Kinshasa", Health Minister Oly Ilunga told Reuters.
Medical teams rushed to track down anyone thought to have had contact with infected people, while World Health Organization continued shipping thousands of doses of an experimental vaccine.
An outbreak in West Africa that began in 2014 left more than 11,000 dead across six countries, and was not declared officially over by World Health Organization until the beginning of 2016.
"We want to make sure we are engaging whole communities so that the broader community understands what we are doing and why", said Salama. "We're certainly not trying to cause any panic in the national or worldwide community, [but] urban Ebola can result in an exponential increase in cases in a way that rural Ebola struggles to do". The city has direct transport connections to Congo's capital, Kinshasa, where some 10 million people live in crowded conditions.
A total of 514 people who may have been in contact with infected people have been notified by national health authorities and are being monitored and may be candidates for the first round of vaccines.
Experts are alarmed by the spread of the virus to a major city.
This is the ninth Ebola outbreak in Congo since 1976, when the deadly disease was first identified.
Ebola survivors often suffer from long-term consequences of the disease and may carry dormant viruses.
The outbreak in West Africa that started in 2014 was the worst ever recorded.
The ministry said just one person had been confirmed dead from the virus, but 25 people are suspected to have died from it. The virus initially is transmitted to people from wild animals, including bats and monkeys. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle pain and at times internal and external bleeding.
The current outbreak involves the same strain of the virus that hit three West African countries in 2013-15 and sparked an global panic.
Information for this article was contributed by Jamey Keaten of The Associated Press.
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