Physician likely 1st to contract Ebola in Congo conflict zone

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The World Health Organization on Aug. 24 confirmed the first probable case of Ebola in Oicha, a city in the North Kivu province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which resides in a "red zone" where outsiders may be banned from entering, according to Reuters.

Health officials identified the probable case in a physician who was rehospitalized with Ebola symptoms Aug. 24. His wife wise diagnosed with Ebola after traveling to a nearby city. The physician's initial Ebola test was negative, but healthcare teams are waiting for new results after retesting the man. The physician represents one of 14 confirmed or probable Ebola cases among health workers.

Dr. Peter Salama, WHO's head of emergency operations, said this is a scenario the organization was dreading, since the town of Oicha is surrounded by an extremely violent group called the ADF Ugandan Islamist militia. The conflict area raises serious safety concerns for aid workers and hinders their access to treat the physician or any other individuals who become infected in the city.

"So for the first time really we have a confirmed case and contacts in an area of very high insecurity. It really was the problem we were anticipating and the problem at same time that we were dreading," Dr. Salama told Reuters.

Ninety-seven contacts that may have been exposed to the virus have been contacted, identified and vaccinated, according to Dr. Salama.

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