As Ebola Case Counts Climb, Multiple Outbreaks Beat Down on the DRC
Ebola is not the only infectious disease that health officials in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are struggling with.
Updated: 9/24/18 at 1:00 PM to reflect updated case counts.
The tenth Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has entered its second month but it is not the only disease beating down on the African nation.
As of September 21, 2018, the World Health Organization reported a total of 147 Ebola cases: 116 confirmed and 31 probable. A total of 99 deaths associated with the outbreak have been reported, with 68 deaths confirmed to be a result of Ebola virus infection.
Of the ill, 16 health care workers have been affected, 15 of which have confirmed Ebola virus infections. One health care worker has died from their illness, according to the WHO.
Data is available for 111 of the cases and indicates that the median age of those affected by the outbreak is 35 years, and those between 30 and 44 years of age account for 25% of cases (28 of 111), with women accounting for 55% of cases (61 of 111).
The majority of cases (86 of 120) have been reported in the Mabalako Health Zone in North Kivu. The cases account for 72% of the total cases in the country and of the 86 who had fallen ill, 61 have died.
The Ministry of Health continues to encourage that all citizens take preventive measures against the virus, particularly those in the North Kivu and Ituri Provinces. There has been a total of 5764 experimental Ebola vaccines administered in the country since August 8, 2018, according to the most recent Situation Report.
While the Ebola situation has health officials concerned, prompting them to utilize experimental treatments in an effort to quell the outbreak and reduce the death rate, Ebola is not the only public health threat in the DRC at this time.
We’ve rounded up a list of other active outbreaks and public health crises in the DRC that you should know about:
Grade 3 Cholera Outbreak Sickens Over 600 in 1 Week
The Ministry of Health of the DRC initially notified the WHO of the cholera outbreak on January 16, 2015. Despite the WHO’s involvement, the outbreak has continued to grow across the country. As of August 19, 2018, there have been 17,069 cases and 566 deaths reported since January 1, 2018.
Cholera is endemic to the DRC and sporadic cases and outbreaks are not uncommon in the country. The health departments have categorized different provinces as being endemic to the disease, but outbreaks can occur in areas that are not endemic as well.
According to the WHO, in recent years there has been an upward trend in case counts since week 24. In week 33 alone, 698 cases were reported with 55 total deaths. The largest number of cases from week 33 were reported from the K. Oriental, South Kivu, Sankuru, Tanganyika, and Kasai Provinces. In total, these provinces have comprised 90% of the reported cases during week 33.
Measles Outbreak Stresses a Need for Vaccinations in DRC
Due to the ongoing outbreak of measles in the DRC, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a travel alert advising that anyone planning to visit the country be up-to-date on their measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine.
The Ministry of Health notified the WHO of the outbreak on January 10, 2017. The outbreak has continued to grow since then, particularly in the epidemic zones.
Between January 1, 2018 and August 30, 2018 there have been 22,217 cases with 245 reported deaths. During week 33, a total of 1045 new cases and 10 deaths were reported.
Measles is highly contagious, and the epidemic zones are located along the eastern part of the country, close to the area where the current Ebola outbreak is located. This area is inundated with rebel conflict that has been ongoing since 2016, inhibiting health care workers from providing vaccinations that could reduce the likelihood of transmission.
Monkeypox Cases Continue to Pop Up After 48 Years
Monkeypox was first discovered in the DRC in the Equator Province in 1970, a year after the last confirmed case of smallpox in the area.
The DRC still experiences outbreaks and reports of the disease. The WHO reports that there have been 2585 suspected cases of monkeypox in the DRC so far in 2018, including 42 deaths.
The virus can be transmitted from animal-to-person and from person-to-person through exposure to blood, body fluids, or rash from an infected individual. The disease has clinical resemblance to smallpox.
In week 33, there have been 103 suspected cases and 1 death. The suspected cases have been reported in 14 provinces across the nation, but a high number of cases have been reported in the Sankuru province in the center of the country.
Three Separate Outbreaks of Circulating Vaccine-Derived Poliovirus Type 2 Detected
The DRC is reporting 3 separate outbreaks of circulating vaccine-derived poliovirus type 2 (cVDPV2) that have been detected in acute flaccid paralysis cases. The Ministry of Health first notified the WHO of this outbreak on February 15, 2018 and a public health emergency has been declared.
The first strain of cVDPV2 was reported in June 2017 from Haut Lomami Province and spread through early 2018. The same virus was confirmed in Ituri Province, along the east coast of the country, in June 2018.
Maniema Province, which is located in the eastern region of the country has been affected by a separate cVDPV2 outbreak, beginning in 2017 with the most recent case reported in April 2017.
The third and most recently detected outbreak of cVDPV2 was found in Mongala Province in the northwest part of the country in April 2018.
As of August 31, 2018, a total of 35 cases have been reported, with 22 onset in 2017 and 13 confirmed in 2018. The cases have been reported in the following 6 provinces: Tanganyika (15 cases), Haut-Lomami (9) Mongala (6), Maniema (2), Haut Katanga (1) Ituri (1).
Contagion® will continue to track all ongoing outbreaks and provide updates as they become available.