Health Highlights: May 15, 2018

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:

Congo Ebola Outbreak Death Toll Now at 19

The number of victims who’ve died as a result of the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has risen to 19, with health officials speeding an experimental vaccine to the outbreak’s epicenter.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said there are now 39 confirmed and suspected cases of Ebola in the central African nation. Cases are spreading throughout rural regions comprising about 40 square miles in the DRC’s northwest sector, the Washington Post reported.

Three health-care workers are among the dead, and health officials are tracking the health of 400 people who’ve had contact with Ebola patients, the Post said.

In the meantime, WHO said shipments of an experimental Ebola vaccine are expected to arrive in the affected area by the end of this week. The vaccine was developed by Merck after the recent West African outbreak. In a trial of more than 5,800 people inoculated in Guinea in 2015, none came down with Ebola.

“Everything is formally agreed already. The vaccine is safe and efficacious and has already been tested. I think we can — all is ready now to really use it,” Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO’s director-general, told reporters Monday.

The biggest Ebola outbreak yet recorded killed about 11,300 people as it spread throughout Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia between 2014 and 2016.

Ebola symptoms typically arise within about eight to 10 days of exposure to the virus, and include fever, headache, diarrhea, vomiting and hemorrhage.