Ebola Vaccine Land DR. Congo

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The latest outbreak of Ebola has spread to a large city in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, according to the country's health minister.

Health officials have confirmed a case in the northwest city of Mbandaka, a busy river port located at the intersection of the Congo and Ruki rivers and with trade routes to the capital Kinshasa.

Last year, eight people were infected and four people died after an outbreak of the disease, according to the Centres for Disease Control.

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Health workers have recorded confirmed, probable and suspected cases of Ebola in three health zones of Congo's Equateur province, and have identified 432 people who may have had contact with the disease, the WHO said.

It can spread rapidly through contact with small amounts of bodily fluid and its early flu-like symptoms are not always obvious.

The World Health Organization says more doses "should be deployed in the coming days".

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The WHO said the risk of the disease spreading was "high" and announced it was preparing for the "worst case scenario".

The first urban case to be announced threatens to change that.

"Since the announcement of the alert in Mbandaka, our epidemiologists are working in the field with community relays to identify people who have been in contact with suspected cases", he said.

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the agency's director-general, said: "This is a concerning development, but we now have better tools than ever before to combat Ebola". The spread of the deadly virus from the countryside and into a city that is home to about a million people pushes the current outbreak into a "new phase", essentially making the efforts to contain the outbreak far harder. While none has been connected to the one in West Africa, the experimental vaccine is thought to be effective against the Zaire strain of Ebola found in Congo.

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