Ebola Outbreak Continues Its Western Expansion

Ebola vaccinations are available in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
young child in the congo

Health officials reported the new Ebola disease outbreak in the northwestern section of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is a high-risk area.

The DRC’s Ministry of Health and other authorities are implementing outbreak control interventions in the Equateur Province and surrounding provinces.

According to the DRC’s country's multisectoral Ebola Response Committee, since the start of the 11th Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic declared on June 01, 2020, the cumulative number of cases has been 17, including 14 confirmed and 3 probable. 

In total, there were 11 deaths (8 confirmed and 3 probable).

Sequencing of the initially confirmed specimen conducted at the Institute National de Recherche Biomédicale, Kinshasa, indicated the Zaire ebolavirus isolated in Equateur Province is not linked to the outbreak in the eastern section of the DRC.

From August 2018 through June 8, 2020, a total of 3,463 EVD cases have been reported in the eastern DRC, of which 2,280 cases died.

This data represents an overall case fatality ratio of 66 percent.

The good news is there are now 2 preventive vaccines being deployed in the DRC.

Ebola prevention vaccines are given to people from contracting the EVD, which is a viral hemorrhagic fever caused by ebolaviruses. These viruses, also known as Zaire ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, and Bundibugyo ebolavirus, can cause severe hemorrhagic fever.

The updated summary of rVSV-ZEBOV-GP (ERVEBO) vaccination data shows that between August 2018 and May 20, 2020, 303,905 people were vaccinated.

In addition, vaccination activities using Zabdeno (Ad26.ZEBOV) and Mvabea (MVA-BN-Filo) were carried out in the health areas of Majengo and Kahembe, Karisimbi Health Zone in North Kivu Province.

Between October 2019 and April 10, 2020, 20,339 people received the 1st dose of this vaccine and 9,560 of them received the 2nd booster vaccination.

The World Health Organization (WHO) advises against any restriction of travel to, and trade with, the DRC in relation to EVD outbreak(s) based on the currently available information. 

The WHO says ‘Any requirements for certificates of Ebola vaccination are not a reasonable basis for restricting movement across borders or the issuance of visas for travelers to/from the affected countries.’

However, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 2 Travel Alert on April 20, 2020.

Travelers should seek medical care immediately if they develop fever, muscle pain, sore throat, diarrhea, weakness, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bleeding or bruising during or after travel.

The CDC suggests prospective visitors to the DRC speak with a healthcare provider prior to departing abroad.

Vax-Before-Travel publishes Ebola outbreak news.