More Ebola reported from Katwa hot spot

Today the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) ministry of health confirmed one new Ebola infection in Katwa and reported two new deaths from Katwa and Butembo.

And in other developments, two more infections were reported in healthcare workers, according to a weekly situation report yesterday from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Ministry details latest case, deaths

Today the DRC's ministry of health confirmed one new case in Katwa, and two new deaths in Katwa and Butembo. The Katwa fatality was a community death. With these new cases, the outbreak totals stand at 789 cases, including 488 deaths.

A total of 199 suspected cases are still under investigation.

Of the two new deaths, the one in Katwa occurred in the community, a factor known to increase the risk of virus spread, and one occurred at Butembo's Ebola treatment center.

Mounting health worker infections

In its situation report yesterday the WHO said two more healthcare workers had been infected with the deadly virus, bringing the total number of healthcare workers infected since August to 65.

Sick health workers are known to amplify Ebola outbreaks, and infection prevention and control gaps in community private and public health centers, where the disease can spread easily when workers and patients aren't adequately protected, have been an ongoing challenge in the DRC's latest outbreak.

With 42 additional Ebola cases reported between Jan 30 and Feb 2, the outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces remains unruly, with new and hold spots recently reporting cases. Twelve health districts reported cases during this time period, the WHO said, with Katwa as the most pressing hotspot for Ebola activity.

"Katwa, Butembo, and Beni remain notable hotspots for the outbreak, with 97/123 (79%) of   cases reported in the last three weeks originating from these areas. Trends in case incidence    reflect an increase in the number of cases since the start of this year and continuation of the outbreak across a geographically widely dispersed area," the WHO said. "Mabalako, Kalunguta, and Vuhovi are back in the list of health zones that have reported newly confirmed cases in the past 21 days."

The WHO said the case-fatality rate among confirmed cases is 59%.

Contact tracing, vaccination continue

Contact tracing continues across the region, with 47,600 contacts registered to date and 7,292 currently under surveillance. The WHO said 82% to 88% of those contacts have been followed within the last week.

"WHO continues to monitor alerts from outbreak-affected areas. In the last week, an average of 460 alerts were received per day, of which an average of 497 (91%) were investigated," the WHO said. "Field teams are reviewing and reinforcing active case finding across all areas to ensure new cases are detected as quickly as possible."

As the outbreak goes into its seventh month, bordering countries are continuing to vaccinate frontline workers. In Uganda, 2,600 workers have been vaccinated, and South Sudan began a vaccination campaign on Jan 28. The WHO said the vaccination of 1,415 frontline workers in Rwanda is imminent.

The DRC said as of today 74,732 people have been vaccinated, including 20,473 in Beni, 18,522 in Katwa, 8,168 in Butembo, 6,035 in Mabalako, 2,736 in Kalunguta, 2,200 in Komanda, 2,074 in Goma,  and 1,821 in Oicha.

Philadelphia patient unlikely to have Ebola

Finally today, the Associated Press reported that a patient at a Philadelphia hospital is being tested for Ebola, but likely doesn't have the disease. Officials say the testing is being done because the patient met screening criteria for Ebola, but it is unknown if he or she had traveled to the DRC or had contact with a patient.

See also:

Feb 5 WHO situation report

Feb 6 DRC update

Feb 6 Associated Press story 

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