WHO: 95% of Ebola case contacts in DRC now traced

Ebola contact tracing
Ebola contact tracing

UNMEER, Martine Perret / Flickr cc

As of Aug 20, 95% of case contacts in the latest Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been traced, according to a tweet today from Peter Salama, MD, the World Health Organization's (WHO's) deputy director-general for emergency preparedness and response.

In a graph showing the percentage of case contacts traced, Salama explained, "Dips in recent days show when work was needed to engage with communities before teams could access some areas. That work was done successfully. On 20 August, 95% of 1,782 contacts followed-up in 3 health zones."

The information comes from the WHO's third situation report on the outbreak, published yesterday. According to the WHO and the DRC, Ebola cases increased by just 1 yesterday, to 103, with 76 confirmed. The death toll rose by 2, to 61, and 7 cases are suspected.

The new case involved a healthcare worker from Mabalako health zone, the epicenter of the outbreak. There have been 14 healthcare workers infected during this outbreak.

More vaccine by end of week

The DRC also confirmed the vaccination of 2,179 people, and said yesterday that officials began vaccinating the first confirmed transmission chain in Oicha. An additional 2,160 doses of Merck's unlicensed Ebola vaccine will be shipped to the region by the end of the week, after 7,160 doses arrived in Kinshasa on Aug 20.

Representatives from the European Union and the United Nations visited the outbreak area yesterday and met the medical teams leading the response efforts, the DRC health ministry said.

The WHO said a total of 10 case-patients have recovered from the disease so far and have returned home. As of Aug 20, 39 patients are being treated in Ebola treatment centers (ETCs) in Mabalako and Beni. Also, as of Aug 20, 637 of the 2,408 known case contacts completed the 21-day mandatory follow-up period.

The report also contains new epidemiologic information: The median age of patients is 32 years (age range, 0 to 74), and those 30 to 39 years old are the most affected, accounting for 28% of the cases. Women make up 58% of all cases.

Other response efforts

The epicenter of the outbreak remains Mabalako in North Kivu, where approximately 80% of cases have been reported, but the WHO reported that a new ETC is being built in the Makeke health area in Ituri province.

"North Kivu and Ituri are among the most populated provinces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. North Kivu shares borders with Uganda and Rwanda," the WHO said. "The provinces have been experiencing intense insecurity and a worsening humanitarian crisis, with over one million internally displaced people and a continuous efflux of refugees to neighbouring countries, including Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania."

The WHO said that, as of Aug 19, it had deployed 119 experts to address the outbreak, 113 of them based in Beni and Mangina, which are both in Mabalako.

See also:

Peter Salama's Aug 23 tweet

Aug 22 WHO situation report

Aug 22 DRC health ministry update

This week's top reads