DRC Health Officials Authorize Use of Experimental Ebola Treatments

The Democratic of the Congo Ministry of Health has authorized the use of 5 experimental Ebola treatments as more than 100 cases of Ebola are reported.

Health officials are working to quell the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as the disease continues to spread. The outbreak, declared on August 1, 2018 in the North Kivu Province, and has since spread to the neighboring Ituri Province.

The Ministry of Health in the DRC has granted the use of 5 experimental therapies, including mAB114, a monoclonal antibody; ZMapp, a monoclonal antibody cocktail; Remdesivir, an antiviral drug; Favipiravir an antiviral drug; and REGN3470-3471-3479 a monoclonal antibody cocktail. Ebola treatment centers will be able to use the therapies based on protocols established by the Ministry of Health.

Health workers began to use mAb114 on August 11, administering the drug to 10 patients who are reportedly showing positive response to the treatment. On August 21, Remdesivir was administered to a patient in Beni who has reportedly been doing well.

As of September 2, 2018, there are a total of 121 cases of Ebola. Of the 121 cases, 91 are confirmed, while 30 are probable; 51 individuals have died. A total of 15 cases have been reported in health workers; 14 of them have been confirmed and 1 individual has died.

Data is available for 107 cases. Those who have fallen ill range in age from 0 to 74 years, with a median age of 32. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 27 of 107 cases have occurred in individuals between the ages of 30 and 44. Furthermore, women accounted for 50 of 107 (58%) of the cases for which data is available.

The epicenter of the outbreak remains in the Mabalako Health Zone within the North Kivu Province which has reported 62 confirmed cases of Ebola. Laboratory testing centers have been established in Mabalako, Beni, Goma, and Mangina to facilitate rapid diagnosis. Since August 1, 322 samples have been tested in total.

The country continues to screen travelers at a variety of entry points throughout the country. According to a newsletter issued by Minister of Health Olly Ilunga, MD, 715,238 travelers have passed through screening checkpoints at 28 entry points thus far.

As of August 19, 2018, 10 vaccination rings using the experimental Ebola virus vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV, have been implemented around 28 recently confirmed cases. According to a WHO External Situation Report published on August 20, 2018, 2408 contacts of Ebola patients were listed and 637 contacts had completed their 21-day mandatory follow up period. A total of 1782 individuals currently remain under surveillance.

Since vaccination began on August 8, 2018, 2613 individuals have been vaccinated: 1311 in Mabalako, 632 in Beni, 44 in Oicha—all of which are in the North Kivu Province—and 626 vaccinations have occurred in Mandima in the Ituri Province.

A total of 7160 doses of the vaccine have arrived in DRC and will be dispatched to Beni and 2160 additional doses will be shipped to the country this week as well.

In addition to the use of vaccinations and new therapies, health officials have launched mass awareness campaigns in public areas and have implemented door-to-door outreach in some areas as well.

Health officials also conducted Knowledge, Attitude and Practice surveys in multiple health zones to assess the levels of Ebola awareness in the communities. The Ministry of Health will use this information to improve engagement strategies and risk education.

Contagion® will continue to monitor this outbreak and provide updates as they become available.

For the most recent case counts in the 10th Ebola Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, check out the Outbreak Monitor.

Updated 9/4/2018 at 9:05 AM to reflect updated case counts.