WHO Ebola emergency committee to meet tomorrow
The World Health Organization (WHO) Ebola emergency committee will meet tomorrow to discuss the latest Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) outbreak developments and assess if the situation still warrants a public health emergency of international concern under International Health Regulations. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, announced the meeting today at the start of a media briefing that primarily addressed the COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak.
The meeting will be the emergency committee's sixth; its last meeting was held in the middle of October. WHO emergency committees typically meet every 3 months or as needed to assess the latest developments. At the media briefing today, Tedros said though the world is now focused on coronavirus, "we cannot and must not forget Ebola."
He said, however, that health officials are encouraged by the current trend; only three cases were reported over the past week, and no cases have been reported in the past 3 days. "But until we have no cases for 42 days, it's not over. As you know, any single case could reignite this epidemic, and the security situation in the eastern DRC remains extremely fragile." According to the WHO's online Ebola dashboard, the outbreak total remains at 3,431 cases, 2,249 of them fatal. Outbreak responders are still investigating 441 suspected cases.
The WHO's African regional office said in its weekly outbreaks and emergencies report today that the main hot spot is Beni in North Kivu province, but ongoing insecurity in other areas is still a concern. The agency added that continued access and heightened vigilance is needed to keep case investigations and contact tracing going.
Feb 11 Tedros remarks
Feb 11 WHO Africa weekly report
WHO online Ebola dashboard
Oct 18, 2019, CIDRAP News story "WHO advisors extend Ebola emergency; European regulators conditionally approve vaccine"
Saudi Arabia reports another MERS case
Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported a new MERS-CoV case today, bringing the February total to five.
The new case involves a 68 year-old man from Hafar Al-Batin, whose exposure to MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) is listed as primary, meaning it is unlikely he contracted the virus from another person. The man's camel contact status is unknown, and he is not a healthcare worker.
Saudi Arabia reported 15 cases in January, including a probable healthcare-related cluster of 6 cases in Abha.
The WHO said in its latest monthly update that, since 2012, it has received reports of 2,499 MERS-CoV cases, at least 861 of them fatal. The vast majority of these cases were in Saudi Arabia.
Feb 11 MOH report
Mali sees first Crimean-Congo fever cases in more than a decade
Health officials from Mali are warning of an outbreak of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever (CCHF), which has sickened 14 people, including 7 fatally. According to the WHO's weekly African regional office bulletin, the outbreak began in January in the Mopti health district.
The index case was a 39-year-old shepherd who quickly infected several family members. All cases except the index case are in females, and five of the seven deaths occurred in the community.
This is the first time in more than 10 years Mali has reported a CCHF case. According to the WHO, however, recent studies show evidence of the virus in both animals and humans in that country.
"Provision of and access to healthcare services is severely compromised, with the region being categorised as hard-to-reach due to the deteriorating insecurity," the WHO warned. "As a result, several of the initial cases died in the community at the beginning of the outbreak. Because of these factors, the current outbreak has the potential to escalate further."
Feb 10 WHO African regional report
Germany, Vietnam report avian flu outbreaks
Two countries reported highly pathogenic avian flu outbreaks today, according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
In Germany, a backyard flock of 69 poultry, including 49 laying hens, tested positive for H5N8 in Baden-Wurttemberg, in the south-central part of the county. Forty-four birds were killed by the virus, and another 25 were culled to prevent further spread.
The OIE said officials confirmed H5N6 in four outbreaks in Vietnam, in villages in the northeastern part of the country. A total of 1,995 birds died among 3,995 susceptible poultry across the outbreaks, and another 2,000 birds were euthanized.
Feb 10 OIE Germany report
Feb 10 OIE Vietnam report