Ebola reports show more health workers infected

Yesterday the Democratic of the Congo (DRC) resumed publishing daily reports on the country's ongoing Ebola outbreak, adding more details about the response in Goma and noting that 149 health workers have now been infected with the deadly virus.

The disruption in daily reports came as the Ebola outbreak response leadership shifted from former minister of health, Oly Ilunga, MD, to a technical group appointed by the president’s office. As before, the daily reports are published under the banner of the DRC's health ministry.

More health worker infections

The 149 infections in the latest report is 9 more health workers than the 140 reported on Jul 23, the last date of daily updates until they resumed on Aug 1.

The latest health care workers include a case in Mambasa (non-vaccinated), Vuhovi (vaccinated), and Beni (vaccinated).  Health workers represent 5% of Ebola cases in this outbreak, and 41 have died from their infections.

Today, the DRC will likely confirm 11 more cases, raising the outbreak total to 2,724, according to the online dashboard maintained by the World Health Organization (WHO). As of yesterday, there were 1,823 deaths, and 423 suspected cases under investigation.

The daily report issued yesterday also said that 151 case contacts have been tracked in Goma, as the city has now seen 4 confirmed cases of Ebola. Of the 151 contacts, 118 have already been vaccinated. In total, 181,389 people have been vaccinated during this outbreak.

Three of the four cases are in one family and represent the first local transmission of Ebola in Goma, a city of 2 million that borders Rwanda.

Persistent community resistance

Today the WHO published its weekly report on the outbreak, and said transmission levels remains steady, at about 85 cases per week for the last 6 weeks. In reference to the four cases in Goma, the WHO recognized the city's swift response and said secondary cases were to be expected as the man diagnosed earlier this week was "ill and in the community for several days before presenting to a health facility."

The WHO also said that continued "minor" security events throughout the outbreak region show continued community distrust towards response workers.

"While the overall security situation in the last 21 days was generally calm and bore no significant impact on the response operations, it remained unstable and concerning, with repeated sightings and activities of non-state armed groups within the area of operations," the WHO said.

"Threats on response personnel and assets continued to be recorded, indicating a possible level of prevailing community reticence by some sectors, groups, or individuals."

Uganda to test Janssen vaccine candidate

Since the outbreak began one year ago, only Merck’s unlicensed VSV-ZEBOV has been used in ring vaccination campaigns. But today, Uganda confirmed it will launch a trial of the Janssen Pharmaceuticals vaccine.

The trial is expected to involve up to 800 people, and is supported by Doctors without Borders and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the Associated Press reports. The trial will last 2 years and measure the length of vaccine protection.

In July, Uganda saw three crossover cases of Ebola from the DRC, but local transmission did not occur. The Janssen vaccine has shown promise in both animal and human trials.

See also:

Jul 31 DRC update

Aug 1 DRC update

WHO Ebola dashboard

Aug 2 Associated Press story

Aug 2 WHO disease outbreak news

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