New cases of Ebola were confirmed in the North Kivu Province, just 1 week after the outbreak in the Equator Province ended.
Just over a week after the ninth outbreak of Ebola in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) was declared over, a new cluster of cases has been reported to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The Ministry of Health of the DRC has announced that as of July 28, 2018, there have been 26 cases of fever with haemorrhagic signs that resulted in 20 deaths. The cases all occurred in Mangina in the Beni territory of the North Kivu Province.
According to Olly Ilunga Kalenga, MD, PhD, Health Minister of the DRC, samples were taken from 6 hospitalized patients. Testing confirmed that 4 of the 6 samples were positive for the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD.)
The WHO has confirmed 30 cases of Ebola in the North Kivu Province and Ituri Province, as of August 12, 2018. Of the 30 confirmed cases, 14 individuals have died. Health officials are working to test other individuals who are ill with symptoms of Ebola.
On August 7, 2018, the WHO confirmed that genetic analysis sequencing indicates the new cases do not have close links to the strain from the previous outbreak. The North Kivu Province is more than 1,550 miles away from the Equator Province, where the previous outbreak occurred. This confirms that the cluster of cases is part of a new outbreak.
EVD is endemic in several areas of the DRC and epidemiological surveillance is being conducted in all risk areas.
“Ebola is a constant threat in the DRC,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, WHO Director-General in a statement issue by the WHO. “What adds to our confidence in the country’s ability to respond is the transparency they have displayed once again. Working closely with the Ministry of Health and partners, we will fight this one as we did the last.”
In the previous outbreak in the Equator Province, 54 cases were reported, including 38 laboratory-confirmed cases and 16 probable cases in deceased individuals who could not be tested; of the 54 individuals, 33 died. The outbreak was declared over on July 24, 2018 after 42 days without any new confirmed cases.
According to the Ministry of Health, a team of 12 experts including epidemiologists, laboratory technicians, and physicians arrived in the Beni territory on August 2, 2018. The team has set up a response center with a mobile laboratory capable of testing samples for Ebola presence and providing protective equipment.
On August 8, 2018, vaccinations began in the province with rVSV-ZEBOV. Frontline health care workers were vaccinated first, followed by community contacts of individuals affected with Ebola. Theer are currently 3220 doses of the vaccine available in the province.
Health officials indicate that resources from the previous outbreak will be useful in addressing the cluster. “Since we are coming out of another Ebola outbreak, we have kept staff and equipment in place,” said Matshidiso Moeti, MsC, WHO Regional Director for Africa in the WHO statement on August 1, 2018. “This allows us to have a head start in response to this cluster.”
In addition to the components utilized in the outbreak in the Equator Province, there is a need for the implementation of security measures to protect health care workers as well as the patients involved in the current cluster. The affected area is an active conflict zone with over 1 million displaced individuals. (See tweet)
Containing EVD is also critical because the North Kivu province shares borders with Rwanda and Uganda.
The WHO will continue to work with the DRC Ministry of Health to monitor the situation. Health officials will work with neighboring countries to ensure that health authorities are alerted and prepared to respond if EVD spreads across the border.
To address the border issues, 32 key points of entry have been identified to strengthen surveillance to detect and respond to new cases while engaging communities in the border area to learn more about EVD and prevention methods.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a statement that there is no recommendation to avoid traveling to the DRC. Travelers are advised to avoid contact with individuals infected with EVD.
For the most recent case counts associated with the Tenth Ebola Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, check out the Contagion® Outbreak Monitor.
Updated: August 14, 2018 at 2:47 PM EDT to reflect updated case counts.
Tweet source: https://twitter.com/PeteSalama/status/1024739919418347520