News Scan for Jun 20, 2018

New suspected Ebola cases
Modified malaria mosquitoes
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Ebola in DRC: 5 more suspected cases in Iboko

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) health ministry reported five more suspected cases of Ebola in Iboko health zone, as lab testing ruled out seven previously suspected cases.

There are now a total of 60 cases, including 28 deaths (38 confirmed, 14 probable, and 8 suspected). The case-fatality rate is 47%.

According to the latest situation report from the World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday, officials have not confirmed any new Ebola cases since May 17 in Bikoro and Wangata health zones, and the last confirmed case patient in Iboko health zone developed symptoms on Jun 2 and died on Jun 8.

"The number of contacts requiring follow-up is progressively decreasing, with a total 1,417 completing the mandatory 21-day follow-up period," the WHO said. As of Jun 17, a total of 289 contacts were still being monitored.

Despite the signs of slowing transmission, the WHO said the current risk level in the DRC is still high.
Jun 19 DRC report

Jun 19 WHO situation report


Oxitec targets malaria-spreading mosquitos

Oxitec yesterday announced its partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop their trademarked "Friendly" mosquitoes to target Anopheles albimanus, one of the most important vectors transmitting malaria in the Western Hemisphere.

The "Friendly" mosquitoes are male-selecting strains that mate with wild females. According to Oxitec, only male offspring with a self-limiting gene survive to adulthood.

"When deployed as part of an integrated vector control program, this strain is anticipated to dramatically reduce wild populations of this malaria-transmitting mosquito species, while still ensuring Oxitec self-limiting mosquitoes do not persist in the environment," Oxitec said in a press release.

Previously, Oxitec used its genetically modifying technology to target Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Zika-endemic regions. The first batch of Friendly mosquitoes was launched in Indaiatuba, Brazil, in May of 2018.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said that tactics targeting vector control have been lacking in the fight against malaria, and Oxitec's mosquitoes offer a novel approach to limiting the disease.
Jun 19 Oxitec press release

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