Authorities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DNC), South Africa, announced five new cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in the Mabalako hot zone of the North Kivu district, bringing the total number deaths to 55. Of the 69 currently infected with the disease, 13 are heath workers - just under 20%.
To manage the crisis, DNC officials have announced free treatment for all victims over the next three months, supplies are being delivered to vital areas, and new facilities are being constructed to handle the ill.
Health officials in Mabalako, Beni and Mangina are have been utilizing the unlicensed vaccine, rVSV-ZEBOV, which was used during another DRC Ebola outbreak earlier this year in which there were 33 fatalities out of 54 confirmed cases. The DRC, meanwhile, has said a new Ebola treatment center (ETC) will soon open in nearby Ituri province, as the currently established ETCs are at capacity.
Tarik Jasarevic, a spokesperson with the World Health Organization (WHO), told CIDRAP News that 13 healthcare workers have tested positive for Ebola, a troubling development, because infected health workers were one of the main factors in the rapid spread of the disease during the 2013-2016 outbreak in West Africa.
Jasarevic also commented on a recent UNICEF report that said children were being infected at high rates during this outbreak. -CIDRAP News
"The case distribution is slightly younger than what we might expect when compared to previous outbreaks, but still within the general range; each outbreak is different," said Jasarevic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced over Twitter that 10 vaccination rings had been identified around 28 recently confirmed cases, while around 1,300 have been vaccinated.
On 8 August, @MinSanteRDC, WHO and partners launched the #Ebola ring vaccination for high-risk populations in northeastern #DRC.— WHO African Region (@WHOAFRO) August 21, 2018
As of 19 August, 10 rings have been defined around 28 recently confirmed cases and approximately 1300 people have consented and been vaccinated. pic.twitter.com/zIu9nv7nby
Peter Salama, WHO Deputy Director General for Emergency Preparedness and Response, tweeted: "Although security is a challenge in #DRC #Ebola outbreak, our teams are managing in innovative ways. Currently, 41 contacts in security red zones are being followed up on daily by local health workers trained by @MinSanteRDC and WHO. No cases so far."
Although security is a challenge in #DRC #Ebola outbreak, our teams are managing in innovative ways. Currently, 41 contacts in security red zones are being followed up on daily by local health workers trained by @MinSanteRDC and WHO. No cases so far. pic.twitter.com/H7KZTCh9LO— Peter Salama (@PeteSalama) August 21, 2018
And in the Beni region, 10 patients have received the experimental treatment mAb114, with professor Jean-Jacques Muyembe - director of the Congo's National Institute for Biomedical Research (INRB), reporting that they are witing for US manufacturers to deliver more doses over the next week, reports The Africa Report.
"Until now 10 people have already received this treatment (mAb114) via infusion, it's an hour of treatment, one injection and until now all 10 are getting better and I think Monday or Tuesday the first case will leave the hospital," said Muyembe.
Fortunately, the treatment has shown promise:
"When we went to Mangina there were 5 or 6 patients and two in a severe state. I said we need to treat everyone (with the mAb114). We can't say we only administer to the less serious cases. We treated all levels (of the illness) so some of them were very serious, and in particular a child who had bloody stools and after this treatment he is now recovering slowly by slowly," he said.
For the first time, @ALIMA_ORG is treating confirmed #Ebola #patients within our innovative Biosecure Emergency Care Units for Outbreaks (CUBE) at our #treatment center in Beni #DRC @WHO says 78 reported Ebola cases, with 44 deaths, since the #outbreak was declared on Aug 1 pic.twitter.com/u2SPntspxI— ALIMA (@ALIMA_ORG) August 17, 2018
One complication to vaccinating the population is security, as the "hot zones" are also located in "red zones" which are considered too dangerous to vaccinate people due to local conflict.
Beni, for example, was the scene of a 2016 massacre in which at least 64 people were killed by militants, bringing the toll to over 700 dead since October 2014.
in North Kivu, health workers are being forced to navigate their response among more than 100 armed groups, and Tedros said that there have been 120 violent incidents since January alone.
He said the region was sprinkled with so-called "red zones", or inaccessible areas. -Daily Mail
"We call on the warring parties for cessation of hostilities, because the virus is dangerous to all. It doesn't choose between this group or that group," according to WHO Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Grateful for the Republic of Korea’s financial contribution to our response to the current #Ebola outbreak in DRC. Many thanks Ambassador Paik Ji-ah for 🇰🇷‘s generosity, which will allow us to do more of this: pic.twitter.com/DNvNPuPr0E— Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (@DrTedros) August 21, 2018
As of last Wednesday in the North Kivu and Ituri provinces, around 1,600 people are being watched by WHO for potential or confirmed contacts with Ebola patients, including 120 health workers, the WHO announced.
"This epidemic (in north Kivu) is going to bring a lot of surprises. It is not like the epidemic in the Equator that we have known already. This epidemic will bring with it a lot of surprises: the number of cases is going up and the number of infected zones is increasing so it will take a long time to control this epidemic and for the anti-virals which the companies will provide us, they are ready to increase the doses," said Muyembe.