News Scan for Feb 24, 2020

DRC Ebola cases, vaccine effects
Two MERS-CoV infections
H5N1 avian flu in India

Ebola cases hit 3,444 in DRC; study shows vaccine reduces viral load

After additions of what might be retrospective cases, the World Health Organization's (WHO's) online Ebola dashboard shows a case count of 3,444 today, which represents 11 more cases than the total reported at the end of last week. The death toll now stands at 2,264 in an outbreak that has lasted 18 months in the eastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The DRC's Ebola technical committee (CMRE) said the 11 cases are probable and not confirmed, and the confirmed total is 3,433. Six of the probable cases are in North Kivu province, and five are in Ituri province.

The CMRE also updated vaccination information; 15,337 people have been vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson's vaccine, and 297,122 have received Merck's rVSV-ZEBOV.

In a new study published in Vaccine, researchers found that Ebola patients in the DRC who had received rVSV-ZEBOV prior to their infections had lower viral loads and better outcomes than unvaccinated Ebola patients. The study compared 44 patients vaccinated prior to admission to Ebola treatment centers in Butembo and Katwa from January through March of 2019 with 213 unvaccinated patients.

Ten (23%) of 44 vaccinated patients died, compared with 117 (55%) of 213 unvaccinated patients (odd ratio, 0.24, 95% confidence interval, 0.11 to 0.51, P < 0.001), the study found. The vaccinated patients were also less likely to suffer kidney damage.
WHO Ebola dashboard
Feb 22 CMRE report
Feb 21 Vaccine study


Two new cases of MERS reported in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health (MOH) reported two new MERS-CoV cases yesterday and today. This raises the number of MERS cases recorded this month to 10.

The first case involved an 81-year-old man from Riyadh whose exposure to MERS-CoV (Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus) is listed as primary, meaning it is unlikely he contracted the virus from another person. The MOH said the man had camel contact, a known risk factor for MERS.

The second case was detected in a 67-year-old man from Najran. His case is also listed as primary, but he did not have camel contact. Neither patient is a health worker.

The WHO said in its latest monthly update that, since 2012, it has received reports of 2,499 MERS-CoV cases, at least 861 of them fatal. The vast majority of these cases have been in Saudi Arabia.
Feb 24 MOH report


High-path H5N1 avian flu kills 1,300 poultry on farm in India

A poultry breeding farm in India has been hit by highly pathogenic H5N1 avian flu, according to a report late last week from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The virus infected all 2,146 birds on the farm and 226 outside the farm but within 1 kilometer of it, killing 1,348, the OIE said in a Feb 21 report. The surviving poultry were culled to prevent further spread of the disease.

The outbreak began on Jan 20 at the farm, located in Odisha province in eastern India, on the Bay of Bengal. Authorities are disinfecting the farm, prohibiting the movement of poultry, and instituting other control measures.
Feb 21 OIE report

Newsletter Sign-up

Get CIDRAP news and other free newsletters.

Sign up now»


Unrestricted financial support provided by

Bentson Foundation Gilead 
Grant support for ASP provided by


  Become an underwriter»