News Scan for Dec 16, 2021

DRC Ebola outbreak ends
Avian flu outbreaks in Europe

DRC's 13th Ebola outbreak declared over

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) today declared the end of its thirteenth Ebola outbreak, given that two 21-day incubation periods have passed since the last patient was discharged from treatment, the World Health Organization (WHO) African regional office said today.

There were 11 cases, 8 of them confirmed and 3 probable, and 6 people died from their infections. The outbreak was declared on Oct 8 and was focused in North Kivu province's Beni health zone, which was one of the hot spots in the country's large 2018 outbreak.

Genetic sequencing from the first case confirmed in the outbreak suggested that the outbreak may have been a flare-up related to the earlier outbreak, perhaps due to persistent virus in a survivor.

The WHO said a vaccination campaign, launched just 5 days after the first case was found, reached more than 1,800 people and included the DRC's first use of Merck's Ebola vaccine in its fully licensed form, which made rollout less cumbersome compared to when it was used on a compassionate-use basis.

Matshidiso Moeti, MBBS, who directs the WHO African regional office, praised the DRC's swift response. "During this outbreak, the Democratic Republic of Congo was able to limit widespread infections and save lives. Crucial lessons are being learned and applied with every outbreak experience," she said, adding that the WHO deployed experts, supplies, and funds to help control the outbreak.

In Beni, outbreak responders faced familiar challenges that hampered the large previous outbreak, including volatile security situations. Health officials will maintain illness surveillance, given that occasional flare-ups are expected following major outbreaks.
Dec 16 WHO statement


UK's DEFRA: Poultry threats remain from high-path avian flu

Highly pathogenic avian flu outbreaks involving poultry and virus detections in wild birds continued at a brisk pace in the United Kingdom and Europe in the first part of December, the UK's Department for Environment, Food, and Agriculture (DEFRA) said in its latest risk assessment.

Fifteen more H5N1 outbreaks have been reported in Britain since DEFRA's last update on Dec 6. Also, Belgium, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Poland, and Russia reported more highly pathogenic H5N1 outbreaks in poultry, and Ireland reported H5N1 at two more locations.

Avian flu detections in wild birds continue to be reported in northwestern Germany, as well as coastal parts of the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Denmark, and Sweden. Greece and Portugal recently reported their first H5 detections of the season in wild birds.

DEFRA kept the risk of exposure to poultry as medium where good biosecurity is in place and at high for locations that have biosecurity lapses.
Dec 13 DEFRA update

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