A resurgence of Ebola cases continued over the recent holiday week, with the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) reporting 15 new cases in the last 5 days, bringing the outbreak total to 3,371 cases in the world's second-largest Ebola outbreak.
According to recent daily updates from the DRC's CMRE, the country's Ebola technical committee, the cases are connected to a patient from Mabalako who suffered a relapse in infection earlier this month.
In a situation report from earlier this week, the World Health Organization said the DRC had tracked 14 cases during the week of Dec 16 to Dec 22, all linked to the relapsed patient who since Dec 8 has been linked to 39 cases.
"New confirmed cases continue to be reported in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in North Kivu and Ituri Provinces. The increase in cases is mostly attributed to a single chain of transmission linked to one source case," the WHO said.
In the past 3 weeks, 76% of all confirmed cases have been from Mabalako. The case-fatality rates holds at 66%, with 28% of case-patients aged 18 or under.
As of Dec 24, 259,164 people have been vaccinated with Merck’s rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine, and 2,983 people have been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson's vaccine.
Hot spot remains stubborn throughout December
At various points throughout the 17-month long outbreak, Mabalako has been a disease hot spot.
The latest wave of cases was caused by increased violence in the region, which has limited the ability of response workers to track case contacts and vaccinate all those at risk of contracting the deadly disease.
In addition to the 3,371 confirmed cases, officials are still investigating a suspected 392 cases. A total of 2,227 deaths have been reported, 7 more than were reported at the end of last week.
In a post dated Dec 24, the CMRE said they had successfully convinced a pastor named Paul Pauni that Ebola existed and vaccinated him against the virus. Pauni is from Lwemba, the site of several cases this fall, and had been one of the most vocal resistance fighters in Ituri province.
Cooperation with community leaders has been a key step to fighting this outbreak, and repairing distrustful attitudes towards response workers.
WHO Ebola dashboard
Dec 24 CMRE update
Dec 24 WHO situation report