Today the health ministry of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) confirmed another 12 cases of Ebola in an ongoing outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri provinces. The cases raise the outbreak total to 1,302.
Of the 1,302 cases, 1,236 are confirmed and 66 are probable. The ministry said the death toll has now reached 843. A total of 325 suspected cases are still under investigation.
Of the 12 new cases 5 are in Katwa, 3 in Mandima, 2 in Vuhovi, and 1 each in Kalunguta and Beni. Ten deaths have also been recorded, including seven community deaths. Community deaths raise the risk of transmission to case contacts, including funeral attendees.
The DRC also said the ring vaccination campaign with Merck's rVSV-ZEBOV continues, with 102,505 people vaccinated since Aug 8, including 27,022 in Katwa, 22,289 in Beni, and 12,468 in Butembo.
In its fourth rapid risk assessment released during this outbreak, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said there is still ongoing Ebola virus disease (EVD) transmission in both urban and rural settings.
"More EVD cases are expected in the coming weeks and a wider geographical extension is still possible given the prolonged humanitarian crisis in the region," the ECDC said, noting that since mid-March, weekly case counts have increased to 52 to 73 cases per week.
Despite the ongoing transmission, the ECDC said the risk of spread to the European Union remains low.
Travel advice for US health workers
Earlier this week, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published recommendations for all US-based healthcare and emergency response workers traveling to and from the outbreak region, including a pre-departure assessment for symptoms of the virus for any workers traveling from Ebola outbreak areas to the United States.
The CDC suggests that all people traveling to an Ebola outbreak zone understand the importance of self-monitoring for fever and symptoms 21 days after leaving the outbreak region.
Of note, the CDC said workers may opt to receive the Ebola vaccine as part of ongoing studies based at the National Institutes of Health. Employees should also be up-to-date on all travel vaccinations, and have access to personal protective equipment during their stay.
Apr 18 DRC update
Apr 17 ECDC assessment
Apr 16 CDC recommendations