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Ebola outbreak in DR Congo now second worst in history

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The Ebola outbreak in DR Congo is the 2nd deadliest in history and end is not in sight

More than 37,000 people have been vaccinated for the disease in the outbreak zone since August 8, according to the health ministry's daily bulletin on Thursday.

"We haven't seen the height of this outbreak", she warned as Ebola continues to move into new areas in DRC, worrying close to a heavily traveled border with Uganda.

World Health Organization said there was a high risk of the outbreak spreading to other provinces in the DRC and other countries.

Dr Peter Salama, WHO's emergencies chief, called it a "sad toll" as DR Congo's health ministry announced the number of cases has reached 426.

This Ebola outbreak is like no other, with some health workers comparing the region to a war zone.

"We can assume that the suspected Ebola cases to be triaged would at least go down by half", Hoyer told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Ebola is believed to have killed 245 people in North Kivu and Ituri provinces where attacks by armed groups and community resistance to health officials have hampered the response.

It is not clear how many Centres for Disease Control and Prevention workers are now forced to tackle the outbreak from DRC's capital, Kinshasa, almost 1 600km away. In a separate statement on Thursday, WHO said so far 36 Ebola cases have been reported among newborn babies and children under 2.

Ebola - a tropical fever which first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo - can be transmitted to humans from wild animals.

Malaria can normally be diagnosed with a rapid blood test, but the risk of Ebola transmission means health workers have to rely on an assessment of symptoms, he said. The many incidents, including physical and verbal abuse, are often caused by groups of youth who are hostile to the response activities.

In a major concern for health workers, many new cases have been unconnected to known infections as the insecurity complicates efforts to track contacts of those with the disease.

The WHO said the current malaria control campaign is modelled on the one implemented in Sierra Leone.

It will form part of a multi-outbreak, multi-country study that was agreed to by partners last month under a World Health Organization initiative.

Ebola has killed 240 people and infected more than 400 in the DRC since July this year in an outbreak that shows little sign of abating.

Dr Ghebreyesus added: 'We honour the memory of those who have died battling this outbreak, and deplore the continuing threats on the security of those still working to end it'.

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