The Democratic Republic of the Congo's (DRC's) 10th Ebola outbreak continued over the weekend, as officials reported three new deaths.
The outbreak, on the eastern border of the DRC, increased by 2 infections and now stands at 142 cases (111 confirmed, 31 probable), according to officials. Of the 142 total number of patients, 97 have died, the DRC Ministry of Health (MOH) said in yesterday's update.
The two new cases came from Beni and Butembo, and all three deaths occurred in Beni, which has been one of the epicenters of virus activity.
On Sep 15, the MOH traveled throughout Beni in a caravan to raise awareness about Ebola. The caravan made several stops at busy places in the city, and a broadcast of the visit will be played on the radio.
Officials also said they are investigating possible case contacts in the Komanda health zone, north of Beni city, after a confirmed Ebola patient died at an Ebola treatment center in Beni.
"The purpose of the mission is to identify contacts and define vaccination belts," the MOH said. The MOH denied rumors that Ebola has been identified in Kabalo and that four suspected case-patients were hospitalized at the General Reference Hospital of Kalemie.
Outbreak slows but doesn't stop
In a Sep 14 statement on the outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that, as the outbreak turns 6 weeks old, transmission has slowed, but, "significant risks remain surrounding the continued detections of sporadic cases within Mabalako, Beni, and Butembo health zones in North Kivu Province."
The problem, the WHO said, is the location of the outbreak, which is one of the DRC's most insecure regions, full of both refugees and militia members.
"There have been challenges with contact tracing activities due to the constant movement of people between health zones, individuals hiding when symptoms develop and reports of community resistance," the WHO said. "Risks are heightened by continued transmission in local health facilities because of poor infection prevention and control (IPC) measures, sporadic reports of unsafe burials, and the detection of cases in hard-to-reach and insecure areas."
The WHO updated the number of infected healthcare workers, reporting a total of 19 as of Sep 12. All but one of those cases was lab-confirmed, and three workers have died. According to the WHO, all 19 exposures occurred in local health facilities outside of dedicated Ebola treatment centers.
More than 5,500 contacts have been registered to date, the WHO said, and 52 vaccination rings have been defined, in addition to 17 rings of health workers and other frontline workers.
"These rings include the contacts (and their contacts) of 55 confirmed cases from the last three weeks. To date, 8,902 people consented and were vaccinated, including 2,951 health care or frontline workers, and 2,054 children," the WHO said.
DRC officials said they are updating the number of people vaccinated in response to the oubreak.
Sep 16 DRC update
Sep 15 DRC update
Sep 14 WHO update