News Scan for Dec 03, 2020

Ebola antibodies in DRC health workers
Hepatitis E in Burkina Faso
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A fifth of DRC health workers had Ebola antibodies after 2014 outbreak

A year after the 2014 Ebola outbreak in Boende, Democratic Republic of the Congo, 22.5% of healthcare workers (HCWs) had Ebola virus (EBOV) antibodies in their blood, even though only 15.1% reported contact with suspected, probable, or confirmed Ebola virus patients, according to a study today in The Journal of Infectious Diseases.

The Boende outbreak occurred Jul 26 through Oct 7, 2014, totaling 68 cases (38 confirmed) and 49 deaths, with 11.6% of cases found in HCWs.

The researchers tested and surveyed 598 HCWs across clinical and nonclinical settings who were not previously diagnosed as having Ebola virus disease (EVD). Of these, 91.1% said they were present during the 2014 outbreak, and 5.3% believed they may have had undiagnosed EVD.

Seroreprevelance (seroreactivity) was measured as a level of anti- EBOV glycoprotein immunoglobulin G greater than 2.5 units/milliliter via the enzyme-linked immunoassay kit, which has a manufacturer-recommended cut-off of 1.0 units/milliliter.

"Our results suggest high exposure to EBOV among HCWs and provide additional evidence for asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic EVD," write the authors. "Further studies should be conducted to determine the probability of onward transmission and if seroreactivity is associated with immunity."

Compared with nurses, administrators had 2.42-times greater odds of having antibodies—possibly because they unknowingly interacted with infected patients—and traditional healers and pastors had 3.14 times the odds. Personal protective equipment was negatively associated with seroprevalence (odds ration [OR], 0.23). Face mask use on its own was associated with a 0.29 OR, and glove use was associated with a 0.23 OR.
Dec 3 J Infect Dis study


Hepatitis E detected for the first time in Burkina Faso, in refugee area

The World Health Organization (WHO) said hepatitis E has been detected for the first time in Burkina Faso has been linked to an outbreak that began in early September, centered in the North-Central region in the country where there are internally displaced persons (IDP) camps and healthcare facility closures due to militant attacks.

From Sep 8 to Nov 24, the country has reported 442 febrile jaundice cases, with 16 deaths, mostly in pregnant women, a group known to be more vulnerable to fulminant hepatitis. So far, 10 cases have been confirmed by polymerase chain reaction testing. The Barsalogho medical center is following up on 38 patients, including 10 who are still hospitalized.

The WHO notified Burkina Faso's health ministry on Sep 11 that the cause of the outbreak was probably hepatitis E, based on lab findings that ruled out other illnesses such as yellow fever and suggested hepatitis E. The country is developing a hepatitis E response plan and strengthening surveillance for jaundice cases in the affected region.

Along with overcrowding in the IDP areas, contributing factors could include limited access to clean water and poor sanitation and hygiene, the WHO said. It added that the national risk is moderate and the risk of spread to the country's other health districts is possible if additional measures aren't put in place.
Nov 27 WHO statement

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