Ebola vaccines arrive in Guinea after dust storm

WHO sent dispatch of 11,000 doses to stop the spread of the epidemic

A special plane carrying a shipment of Ebola vaccine has landed in Guinea, which will allow a vaccination campaign to start later on Tuesday.

A dust storm in the Sahara had forced the plane to deviate from its path on Sunday when it was diverted to Senegal.

Five people recently died in Guinea from the Ebola virus, the first cases in the region for five years.

Between 2013 and 2016, more than 11,000 people died in the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, which started in Guinea.

In response to this epidemic, vaccines were developed, which have since been used successfully to control outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Who is vaccinated against Ebola?

The goal is to vaccinate those who have been in contact with Ebola patients as well as frontline health workers.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the 11,000 doses, which arrived in the capital, Conakry, would be transported to the area near the southeastern city of Nzérékoré within hours to begin vaccinations.

The doses provided by the WHO are not sufficient for entire communities, so it must be decided who is most at risk, reports Catherine Byaruhanga, BBC correspondent for Africa.

The forest region of Guinea is the epicenter of this epidemic, as was the case in 2013 when the disease spread to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone, she adds.

The country has officially declared that it is facing an epidemic on February 14, but the WHO is hoping that a major epidemic can be prevented with this vaccination campaign.

How did the last Ebola outbreak start?

A nurse who worked at a health center in Goueké, near the town of Nzérékoré, fell ill on January 18 and was first diagnosed with typhoid and then malaria.

When she did not improve, she consulted a traditional practitioner in Nzérékoré, but died four days later.

Map showing the proposed Ebola treatment center in Guinea

Map showing the proposed Ebola treatment center in Guinea

Several of her relatives and the traditional healer she consulted then fell ill.

Community funerals, where people help wash the body of the deceased, can be a key way to spread Ebola in the early stages of an epidemic.

The bodies of the victims are particularly toxic. The incubation period can last from two days to three weeks.

Ebola jumps to humans from infected animals, such as chimpanzees, fruit bats and forest antelopes. Bushmeat – non-domesticated forest animals hunted for human consumption – is believed to be the natural reservoir for the Ebola virus.

It then spreads between humans through direct contact with infected blood, body fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.

What is Ebola?

  • Ebola is a virus that initially causes sudden fever, severe weakness, muscle pain and sore throat

  • People get infected when they come in direct contact through broken skin, or the mouth and nose, with the blood, vomit, feces, or body fluids of a person with Ebola

From Ebola survivor to trainee doctor

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