More Ebola cases, deaths reported in West Africa

More Ebola virus disease (EVD) cases and deaths have been reported in two countries affected by the ongoing outbreak in West Africa, including a newly affected district in Guinea, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today.

The expansion in numbers and areas affected is worrisome, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) said today in a new risk assessment.

7 new cases in Guinea, 8 in Sierra Leone

In Guinea, 7 new cases and 6 more deaths were reported, including one of each in Kouroussa district, located in the northwestern part of the country, the WHO said. The new infections push the country's total to 351, including 210 that are lab-confirmed. As of Jun 5, 226 deaths had been reported.

Isolation units are treating 33 patients, and health officials are following 1,011 close contacts.

In Sierra Leone as of Jun 6, 8 new cases and 1 more death were reported, bringing the number of confirmed and suspected infections to 89 and the number of deaths to 7.

The WHO said five healthcare workers are among the sick patients, one of whom has died. Eleven patients are hospitalized, and public health workers are following 30 contacts. It said community resistance is still hampering the identification and follow-up of cases.

Liberia hasn't reported any new cases, but health workers are following 11 contacts of a probable case-patient from Sierra Leone who died in Liberia and whose body was taken back to Sierra Leone for burial.

Outbreak called 'concerning'

The ECDC said in its risk assessment that the resurgence of cases and expanded areas affected in the outbreak that seemed to be winding down a few weeks ago is concerning. It said media and anecdotal reports suggest that public health response operations haven't brokered the trust and community support needed to identify contacts, monitor them, and isolate sick patients.

"A new wave of transmission is currently unfolding and it is therefore likely that additional cases will be identified in the coming weeks," the agency wrote.

Transmission chains in Sierra Leone are related to ongoing EVD transmission in Gueckedou, which is in the forested area of Guinea and has been one of the outbreak's hot spots. The ECDC added that community and nosocomial infections are still occurring in Gueckedou, Mancenta, and Conakry, as well as new areas in Boffa and Telimele. Outbreaks in other areas, however, including Kissidougou, Dabola, and Dinguiraye, appear to be over, the agency said, because two incubation periods have passed.

In Liberia, the new case that was recently reported involves a patient who was discharged against medical advice and died on May 25.The body was returned to Sierra Leone, and the contacts that are being followed include health workers and family members.

Though rising number of cases and affected areas increase the risk for Europeans working and living in affected areas—especially humanitarian and health workers—the overall risk of EVD is still low for visitors to the affected West African countries if basic precautions are followed, the ECDC advised.

Precautions include avoiding contact with live or dead animals, avoiding consuming bushmeat, washing and peeling vegetables before eating, practicing safe sex, and taking proper hand hygiene steps.

The ECDC urged health workers in the area to strictly adhere to infection prevention measures, especially those related to personal protective equipment use. It added that the risk of seeking medical care in the area will depend on how well facilities are implementing precautions.

See also:

Jun 10 WHO update

Jun 10 ECDC risk assessment

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