The number of people infected with Ebola continues to rise steadily in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s (DRC’s) outbreak zone, according to reports yesterday and today, with one more healthcare worker sickened by the virus and the outbreak total rising to 2,546 cases.
New health worker infection
Of 10 new cases reported in the health ministry’s update yesterday, 4 were in Beni, a former Ebola epicenter that has become a hot spot again. The others were in Butembo (2), Mandima (2), Vuhovi (1), and Mutwanga (1). Outbreak responders are still investigating 402 suspected cases.
One of the new illnesses involves a vaccinated health worker from Mandima. So far, 137 healthcare workers have been infected in the outbreak, 41 of them fatally.
Today the World Health Organization (WHO) online Ebola dashboard reflects 14 more cases, which would push the outbreak total to 2,546.
Seven more people died from their Ebola infections, the DRC health ministry said yesterday, including four in community settings in Beni, Mandima, and Vuhovi—a factor that raises the risk of further transmission. The death total has now passed 1,700, with 1,705 confirmed fatalities, the DRC health ministry said yesterday.
Stepped up surveillance in Goma
In its report yesterday, the ministry said the entry point monitoring team at Goma International Airport will now operate 24 hours a day to identify contacts of confirmed cases traveling through the area.
Oly Ilunga Kalenga, MD, the DRC’s health minister, was in Goma yesterday to meet with response teams following the detection earlier this week of the provincial capital’s first case, a pastor arriving from Butembo who died from his infection. Kalenga visited the checkpoint in Nyragongo where the pastor had traveled through, as well as a new 60-bed Ebola treatment center being built by Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
Vaccine trial, virus biobank, volunteer deployment
Meanwhile, in other Ebola developments:
- Additional phase 3 VSV-EBOV trial findings based on participants in earlier studies in the United States, Canada, and Spain found that immunogenicity was durable and persisted through 24 months and that doses from three different vaccine lots showed similar immunogenicity at 28 days. Also, researchers found no vaccine-related adverse events or deaths over the 2-year study period. The group published its findings yesterday in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
- Public Health England (PHE) today posted a report on the Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone (MOHS)-PHE Ebola Biobank, which was established in 2015 with the Sierra Leone government to collect and transfer residual samples to the PHE, based on arrangement for secure transfer detailed in a Sierra Leone export permit. Sierra Leone retains ownership of the data and materials and is working with the PHE and other research groups to develop and conduct research studied. The biobank is funded by a Wellcome Trust grant and is accessible to a host of researchers.
- The African Union announced today that it will deploy more volunteers to support the DRC’s Ebola outbreak response. According to a press release, the move was triggered by the WHO’s public health emergency declaration this week, and volunteers will work in both the DRC and surrounding countries. The same volunteer group was deployed in West Africa’s 2014-16 outbreak. So far 41, experts have already been deployed. The trained team consists of 800 epidemiologists, as well as experts in logistics, laboratory science, communications, and anthropology.
Jul 18 DRC report
WHO online Ebola dashboard
Jul 18 J Infect Dis abstract
Jul 19 PHEublic Health England report
Jul 19 African Union press release