Ebola spreads to 3rd DRC province — South Kivu

Ebola nurse and baby
Ebola nurse and baby

© UNICEF / Hubbard

In another discouraging, but not unexpected, development in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC's) battle against Ebola, health officials today reported the first two cases in South Kivu province.

In other developments, the DRC reported nine more cases, and a United Nations (UN) agency announced $10 million more to support the outbreak response.

Mother, child infected in South Kivu

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on its Twitter feed today that the South Kivu cases were confirmed in a mother who died and her child who is being treated. South Kivu province—the third to be affected in the outbreak—neighbors North Kivu, where the main outbreak epicenters are located.

The mother is a 24-year-old woman who had been identified as a high-risk contact of an Ebola patient in Beni, and had traveled to Mwenga in South Kivu province by bus, road, and boat with two of her children, Reuters reported today, citing a DRC government statement. She died the evening of Aug 13.

The two towns are about 473 miles apart, and South Kivu province shares a border with Rwanda and Burundi.

The woman had been vaccinated, according to health officials, and the response team has identified 120 of her contacts and have immunized 20 of them. The WHO said in its tweet that as soon as the Ebola alert was raised, response teams were on the ground ready to provide treatment, start tracing contacts, and begin vaccination.

The woman's likely exposure in Beni underscores concerns that the WHO has aired about persistent outbreak hot spots seeding illnesses to other parts of the DRC and to other countries. The cases in South Kivu follow recent spread of the virus to Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

New cases, more support for response

In other developments, the DRC confirmed 9 more Ebola cases, lifting the overall outbreak total to 2,861, according to the WHO online Ebola dashboard. Health officials are still investigating 353 suspected cases.

Eight more people have died from their infections, putting the fatality count at 1,913.

Meanwhile, the UN said today that $10 million from its Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) will go to help people affected by the DRC's Ebola outbreak.

According to a UN statement, the money will help strengthen early disease detection, boost prevention and control measures, provide psychosocial and nutritional support, and assist with community engagement.

Mark Lowcock, UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian relief and emergency coordinator, said the CERF money will help detect new cases faster and support those who have lost loved ones. "But we urgently need donors to provide sustained funding for the response at this critical juncture," he added.

The UN said the $10 million is in addition to $4.8 million it allocated to the Equateur province outbreak and earlier in the current outbreak and is separate from a $10 million CERF contribution to help key DRC neighbors—Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda—prepare for possible Ebola cases.

See also:

Aug 16 WHO Twitter post

Aug 16 Reuters story

WHO online Ebola dashboard

Aug 16 UN statement

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