Death toll in DR Congo from Ebola outbreak now at 61

Sixty – one people have died in the latest outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo , the authorities said , adding that four novel drugs had been added to the roster of treatments .

The health ministry ’s General Directorate for Combatting Disease said 103 cases of Ebola had been recorded in the eastern DRC as of August 22 , 76 of which had been confirmed by laboratory tests.

Of the 103 cases, there were 61 deaths , 34 of which been confirmed by lab tests, while 27 others were considered “ probable ” cases of Ebola .

The outbreak began on August 1 in Mangina in North Kivu province, and cases have been reported in neighbouring Ituri province.

It is the 10 th outbreak to strike the DRC since 1976 , when Ebola was first identified and named after a river in the north of the country .

The health ministry added that “ four additional experimental therapeutic molecules ” had been approved by its ethics committee for treating infected patients .

Their laboratory names are ZMapp ; Remdesivir ; Favipiravir ; and Regn 3450 – 3471 – 3479.

The drugs — which have not been licensed but undergone safety trials — add to a prototype treatment called mAb 114, whose use was announced on August 14 .

The first therapeutic drug against the virus to be used in an active Ebola epidemic in the DRC , mAB114, has so far been given to 10 patients “ who are responding positively ,” the ministry said .

Developed in the United States , the prototype drug is a so – called single monoclonal antibody — a protein that binds on to a specific target of the virus and triggers the body ’ s immune system to destroy the invader.

The experimental treatments are being used alongside an unlicensed vaccine called rVSV – ZEBOV , which was shown to be safe and effective in previous trials in an Ebola epidemic in West Africa .

Immunisation with rVSV- ZEBOV has been given to 2 , 179 front – line health workers, the ministry said .

The WHO has expressed concern that the violence in the province Kivu — entailing militias who often fight for control of resources , including a notorious Ugandan rebel force called the Allied Democratic Forces ( ADF ) — could hamper the fight against rolling back the disease.

The outbreak in eastern DRC was declared a week after WHO and the government hailed the end of a flareup in northwestern Equateur province, at the other end of the vast country , which killed 33 people .

The government has earmarked $ 43 million ( 37 million euros) to fight the latest scare.

Ebola is a highly contagious haemorrhagic fever caused by a virus which is believed to have a natural home in species of tropical bats .

It causes serious illness including vomiting , diarrhoea and in some cases internal and external bleeding . It is often fatal .

In the worst Ebola epidemic, the disease struck the West African states of Guinea , Liberia and Sierra Leone in 2013- 15 , killing more than 11 , 300 people .

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