Ebola cases top 2,180 as Uganda OKs experimental therapies

Decontamination after safe Ebola burial
Decontamination after safe Ebola burial

UN, Martine Perret / Flickr cc

As expected, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) yesterday announced 20 new cases, part of an uptick in activity and transmission that continues in several smaller hot spots, and it added 13 cases today, for a total of 2,181.

In developments in Uganda, where three imported cases were recently detected, health officials cleared the use of three experimental treatments so that any other cases confirmed in the country can receive similar Ebola care as in the DRC.

Mabalako emerges as hot spot

Today DRC officials said 4 new cases were in Mandima, 3 in Mabalako, 2 in Butembo, and 1 each in Katwa, Kyondo, Beni, and Kalunguta.

In a daily update late yesterday, the DRC health ministry said the new cases were from seven locations: 14 in Mabalako, and 1 each from Musienene, Beni, Bunia, Rwampara, Kalunguta, and Kyondo.

The ministry said Mabalako has become the outbreak's main hot spot and that response teams there have stepped up their active search for cases to isolate them as quickly as possible to break transmission chains. It also said the new case in Bunia is a contact of an earlier case in Rawmpara health zone who had refused follow-up and vaccination.

The health ministry said the three cases confirmed recently in Uganda will be counted as cases from Mutwanga health zone in the DRC's North Kivu province, since that's where their symptoms began after visiting Mabalako.

Of the 2,181 total cases, 2,087 have been confirmed. Health officials are still investigating 322 suspected cases.

The health ministry said yesterday and today that 19 more people died from Ebola, including 8 in community settings and 11 in Ebola treatment or transit centers. The latest fatal cases life the death count to 1,459.

Security incidents continue

Yesterday, the DRC said a burial team in Bunia was attacked by a group of young people who assaulted them and took their phones and money. All of the team members have been accounted for and the dead body was brought back to the Bunia transit center.

In an update 2 days ago, the DRC noted two other incidents, one the destruction and burning of a sanitary checkpoint during the night in Ituri province and the other an attempted attack by a group of bikers on an infection control and prevention team cleaning up the site of a recently confirmed case in Rwampara health zone. Police dispersed the attackers and the responders were able to complete their work.

Clearance of experimental treatments

On Twitter yesterday, Uganda Health Minister Jane Ruth Aceng, MD, announced that officials have received clearance from two government groups to bring experimental Ebola treatments into the country. The groups include the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology and the National Drug Authority.

According to a Reuters story that cited a WHO spokesman, the treatments are ZMapp, Regeneron's REGN-EB3 antibody cocktail, and the antiviral remdesivir.

Uganda doesn't have any active Ebola cases but, in a press release, the health ministry said there are two suspected cases that have been isolated while test results are pending.

Ring vaccination of contacts and contacts of contacts began on Jun 15. And, as of yesterday, 128 contacts and frontline health and response workers had been vaccinated in the latest push.

See also:

Jun 18 DRC update

Jun 17 DRC update

Jun 16 DRC update

Dr Jane Ruth Aceng Twitter account

Jun 17 Uganda health ministry press release

Jun 18 Reuters story

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