'Ray of hope' for Ebola patients as 2 given experimental treatment recover from virus

Congo's health ministry says two of the first 10 people to receive an experimental treatment for the Ebola virus in the latest outbreak have recovered, and monitoring could show what role the treatment played.

Successful treatment was isolated from a survivor of a 1995 Ebola outbreak

Two people who received the mAb114 treatment, isolated from a survivor of an Ebola outbreak in 1995, have recovered, WHO said on Saturday. (Al-hadji Kudra Maliro/Associated Press)

Congo's health ministry says two of the first 10 people to receive an experimental treatment for the Ebola virus in the latest outbreak have recovered, and monitoring could show what role the treatment played.

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday congratulated Congo's government for making several experimental treatments available in this Ebola outbreak, calling it "a global first, and a ray of hope for people with the disease."

The two people received the mAb114 treatment isolated from a survivor of an Ebola outbreak in 1995. It was the first of five experimental treatments Congo approved for use in the outbreak that was declared on Aug. 1.

WHO's emergency preparedness chief on Friday said Ebola has spread to an area of high security risk, a "pivotal" moment that endangers the health of medical teams. Several armed groups roam Congo's densely populated northeast, and health officials have said "red zones" where attacks occur pose a serious challenge to finding and monitoring contacts of infected people.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, said the development offers a 'ray of hope for people with the disease.' (Salvatore Di Nolfi/keystone/AP)

77 confirmed cases in Congo

Congo says 77 Ebola cases have been confirmed, including 39 deaths and 11 recoveries. There are another 28 probable cases in which biological samples are not available for laboratory testing.

Nearly 3,000 people in this outbreak have received an experimental Ebola vaccine.

Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever, is spread via contact with bodily fluids of those infected, including the dead. It can be fatal in up to 90 per cent of cases, depending on the strain. This is Congo's 10th outbreak of the virus and the first in North Kivu province, which aside from the resident population hosts an estimated one million people displaced by fighting.

The affected region in this outbreak, which includes Ituri province to the north, borders Uganda, Rwanda and South Sudan. While WHO says the public health risk is high at the national and regional level, it advises against travel restrictions.