Congo approves 4 more experimental treatments as Ebola battle continues

Ministry says 10 Ebola patients who received the first experimental treatment are doing well, while health-care workers struggle to contain the spread of the deadly virus through a vaccination campaign.

Vaccination efforts hampered in 'red zones' where armed groups may attack

A Congolese health worker administers Ebola vaccine to a boy who had contact with an Ebola sufferer in the village of Mangina in Congo. (Olivia Acland/Reuters)

Congo has approved the use of four more experimental treatments in the Ebola virus outbreak in its northeast, as health officials try to contain the spread amid the threat from armed groups in the region.

The treatments ZMapp, Remdesivir, Favipiravir and Regn3450 - 3471 - 3479 can now can be used on those suffering from Ebola, the health ministry said Wednesday. On Tuesday, health officials administered Remdesivir to a patient in Beni, the ministry said.

Health officials began using the first experimental treatment — mAb114 — on 10 patients on Aug. 11. The ministry said they were doing well. 

A health worker from the Alliance For International Medical Action helps prepare a treatment facility for Ebola patients in the town of Beni in Congo. (Samuel Mambo/Reuters)

Congo's tenth Ebola outbreak was declared in Mangina in North Kivu province on Aug. 1. So far there are 75 confirmed Ebola cases and 27 probable ones. Of the 59 deaths, 32 have been confirmed as Ebola, according to the health ministry.

More than 1,600 people have been vaccinated since Aug. 8 in Mabalako and Beni in North Kivu province and in Mandima in Ituri province, the ministry said.

Insecurity in the region, especially in what the World Health Organization calls "red zones" where several armed groups stage attacks, is hampering efforts to treat everyone.

North Kivu is densely populated with more than 1 million displaced people. Health officials say the local population near the heavily travelled border with Uganda is not familiar with the disease, making outreach important.

Ebola is spread via contact with bodily fluids of those infected, including the dead, and can be fatal in up to 90 per cent of cases, depending on the strain.