The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) grew by 24 cases today and over the weekend, including several case-contacts who refused or delayed vaccination after family members fell ill.
Since Saturday, 8 new cases were reported in Katwa, 6 in Vuhovi, and 5 in Masereka. Butembo, Kyondo, and Kalunguta also reported cases. Twelve new deaths were reported, including eight community deaths.
The new cases bring the outbreak total to 960 cases, including 603 deaths. A total of 172 suspected cases are still under investigation.
As of today, 89,173 people have been vaccinated with Merck's VSV-EBOV, including 22,470 in Katwa, 20,956 in Beni, and 10,972 in Butembo.
Family cluster in Vuhovi refused vaccination
On Saturday, health officials in the DRC said the cases in Vuhovi likely came from a single family who refused follow-up care and vaccination after a family member contracted the virus.
"Following the last community death in this family, several neighbors and other villagers moved and asked to be vaccinated," health officials said, also noting that eventually the family members were treated at an Ebola treatment center.
The cases from Masereka are also family members of a confirmed patient who died on Mar 4.
More violence reported against response
Also late last week brought the fourth violent attack on response workers in the last month, this time in Biena.
According to media reports, the attack took place after health workers tried to take a blood samples from a deceased man who they suspected had Ebola. A group of young people attacked the workers, and police had to shoot at a crowd, killing one person.
Last week, in a press conference concerning the outbreak--now in its eighth month--World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said local violence is the most detrimental factor to response efforts.
Mar 16 DRC report
Mar 17 DRC report
Mar 18 DRC report
Mar 16 Express story