More Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases and deaths in three West African nations have made the outbreak the largest and deadliest since the first Ebola outbreak in Africa in 1976, with 528 confirmed or suspected infections, 337 of them fatal, according to an update today from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Of the 47 new cases, 31 were reported in Sierra Leone, with infections and deaths also reported in a highly populated area near Liberia's capital, Monrovia, according to the report.
The WHO was first notified about Guinea's outbreak in the middle of March, and the first cases were confirmed in Sierra Leone and Liberia in late May. The outbreak represents the first appearance of Ebola in West Africa.
The 528 illnesses reported so far in the region, of which 364 have been lab-confirmed, have topped a 2000 outbreak in Uganda in which 425 illnesses were reported, and the 337 deaths reported so far outpaces the 280 reported in a 1976 outbreak in Zaire.
The outbreak appeared to be winding down in the middle of May, but EVD activity spread to other parts of Guinea as Sierra Leone and Liberia reported their own disease hot spots.
Seven new cases in Guinea
In Guinea, 7 new cases and 5 more deaths were reported from Jun 14 to Jun 16, raising the country's number of EVD illnesses to 398 and the death total to 264. So far 254 of the infections have been confirmed by lab tests.
Four of the new cases and all of the latest deaths were reported in Gueckedou, the hardest hit in the country's forested southwestern region where the first cases were reported. The others were in Boffa prefecture, on Guinea's eastern coast, north of the capital city of Conakry.
No new cases have been reported from Kissidougou since Apr 1, according to a separate report detailing some of the illness locations and timeline events.
The WHO said that 24 patients are in treatment centers in four different areas: Conakry, Gueckedou, Telimele, and Boffa.
Sierra Leone: 31 cases, 4 deaths
In Sierra Leone, 31 new cases and 4 new deaths were reported from Jun 15 to Jun 17, most of them in Kailahun, a district in the country's Eastern province, near the Guinea and Liberia borders.
Single cases were reported in other parts of Sierra Leone. One is in Kono, another Eastern province city that is northwest of the main outbreak area and Western area, on the opposite side of the country not far from Freetown, the country's capital.
The new cases lift Sierra Leone's total in the outbreak to 97 illnesses, 49 of them fatal. So far 92 of the infections have been confirmed.
Currently, 33 patients are being treated at a center in Kenema, and contact tracing continues in Kailahun, Kambia, and Port Loko, the WHO said.
Liberia reports 9 new cases, 5 new deaths
Meanwhile, Liberia reported 9 new cases and 5 new deaths between Jun 11 and Jun 15 in two different areas. Six of the illnesses were reported in Lofa, an area in the northern part of the country near the border with Guinea. The other 3 illnesses and all 5 of the deaths were in Montserrado, in western Liberia near Monrovia.
The freshly reported cases boost Liberia's number of EVD cases to 33, of which 24 have been fatal. So far 18 infections are lab confirmed.
Five patients are being treated in a center in Lofa, the WHO said, and health officials are following 108 contacts, most of them from the Lofa area.
In light of more cases and deaths in new areas in all three countries, the WHO said it and its partners are continuing to provide expertise to health ministries. Community resistance to outbreak response efforts is occurring in some areas, and the WHO said it is deploying more experts to help, with another cross-border meeting slated for Jun 23 between the three countries.
Jun 18 WHO statement
WHO EVD dashboard