DRC Ebola deaths top 1,500; more cases in Ituri province capital

The number of new Ebola cases reported daily by the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continued its steady rise over the past 3 days, with 35 new cases reported, 2 of them in Bunia, the capital of Ituri province, which is home to about 366,000 people.

Bunia cases draw health minister visit

The resurgence of cases in Bunia—the second-largest city in the eastern DRC—follows the detection of an imported case. Over the weekend, DRC health minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga, MD, visited the city to meet with provincial officials to assess the status of the response in the area, according the DRC health ministry's update yesterday.

Last week, the health ministry reported a case in Bunia, involving a contact of an earlier case in Rwampara health zone who had refused follow-up and vaccination. In March, the city reported an infection in a 6-month-old baby. The recent cases bring the total in the city to four.

The city has been preparing for the arrival of more cases for several months and put mechanisms in place quickly, the health ministry said. Kalenga said, "Putting public health measures in place is one thing, but it is mainly the community that has to take ownership, accept protective measures, and also vaccination, a way to break the chain of transmission."

Bunia has only one Ebola transit center, where people with suspected Ebola infections stay to await their test results. Efforts are under way to turn Bunia's transit center into an Ebola treatment center, and health officials are drawing up plans to strengthen Ituri province's health system.

More health workers infected

The 35 new cases are from nine different areas, including Beni (9), Lubero (8), Mabalako (7), and Mandima (5), and Bunia (2). The following locations each reported 1 new case: Mangurujipa, Rwampara, Kalunguta, and Katwa.

The latest infections lift the outbreak total to 2,239 cases, and today's World Health Organization (WHO) online Ebola dashboard suggests that the ministry will report 8 more cases today, which would boost the overall number to 2,247.

In its daily update yesterday, the health ministry reported 3 more Ebola infections in health workers, all from Lubero. Two had been vaccinated, but the report didn't say how long ago. The illnesses bring the number of healthcare workers infected in the outbreak to 122, of which 39 were fatal.

As of yesterday, health officials were still investigating 276 suspected cases.

Regarding deaths, 27 more people in the DRC died from Ebola, lifting the fatality count past 1,500 to 1,506. Of the latest deaths, 12 occurred in the community—which raises the risk of transmission—and 15 occurred in Ebola treatment centers.

See also:

Jun 21 DRC report

Jun 22 DRC report

Jun 23 DRC report

WHO online Ebola dashboard

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