WHO confirms 2nd Ebola case in DRC; 17 suspected

Over the weekend, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed a second case of Ebola virus disease in a patient from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). So far, there have been three deaths and 17 suspected cases of the hemorrhagic fever disease, according to news reports.

Yesterday the WHO said contact tracing and investigation is under way for 125 people who have been exposed to the Ebola-Zaire outbreak strain, Reuters reported. So far, the agency provided information for only three suspected cases: The possible index patient presented with symptoms on Apr 22 and died upon arrival to a local health facility in Likati health zone, Bas Uele province, in the northern part of the DRC.

On May 13 the WHO listed the age of the first case-patient as 45 in a WHO Africa statement and as 39 in a disease outbreak news update.

The man experienced bleeding from the nose, blood in his urine, bloody vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. The man who helped transport him to the healthcare facility is now symptomatic, and the taxi driver who drove the patient to the facility is now dead, the WHO said. 

A team from Medicins sans Frontieres arrived in the DRC on May 13 to work with a team of Ministry of Health professionals, and the WHO said that personal protective equipment for healthcare workers was shipped to the region on May 12.

WHO Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti, MD, traveled to Kinshasa to address the outbreak, according to the WHO Africa statement. The Likati health zone is about 2 to 3 hours from DRC's largest city and has limited transportation and communication networks.

No details on vaccine use

The WHO gave no details on whether a ring vaccination program would be launched with Merck's rVSV-ZEBOV. Approximately 300,000 doses of the vaccine, which has shown in clinical to protect against Ebola-Zaire, are available for emergency use.

"The full extent of the 2017 outbreak is still not yet clear," the WHO Africa statement read. "Extensive investigation and risk assessments are being conducted and the findings will be communicated accordingly. WHO does not recommend any restriction of travel and trade to DRC based on the currently available information."

This is the seventh outbreak of Ebola in DRC since the disease first appeared in 1976. The last outbreak took place in 2014 and involved 66 suspected cases and 49 deaths. That outbreak was not related to the 2013-16 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, the largest in history by far.

See also:

May 14 Reuters report

May 13 WHO Africa region statement

May 13 WHO disease outbreak news update

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