Update: Ebola Virus Disease Outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo
19 July 2018
The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) declared an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the Bikoro Health Zone, Equateur Province on 8 May 2018. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) latest situation report (dated: 12 July 2018) (see: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/273088/SITREP_EVD_DRC_20180712-eng.pdf?ua=1), total of 53 cases of viral haemorrhagic fever have been reported, with 38 EVD cases laboratory confirmed and 15 probable cases (cases with no laboratory confirmation). A total of 29 deaths were reported, relating to a case fatality rate of 54.7%. No new cases were reported since the 6 June 2018. The cases were reported from the three health zones of Bikoro, Iboko and Wangata located in the Equateur Province. The latter is situated on the northwest border of the DRC. No exported cases of EVD to other countries have been reported.
This outbreak is the ninth outbreak of EVD in the DRC. Local experience in dealing with EVD outbreaks are being bolstered through the support of the WHO, Médecins Sans Frontières and other international partners. Current efforts are focused on active case finding, survivor monitoring and other response activities to ensure that any possible flare-ups are rapidly detected and contained. The outbreak will be declared over following a 42 day monitoring period since the last detected case was non-infectious). The deployment of the first EVD vaccine to assist in the outbreak containment efforts is a landmark event and set to change the way that outbreaks will be managed in the future. A total of 3 300 persons were vaccinated since 21 May 2018, including high risk professionals (such as frontline healthcare workers) and EVD case contacts.
The WHO does not recommend that any travel or trade restrictions be applied to DRC. Given the current situation, including the extent of the outbreak and responses to the outbreak, the WHO does not currently consider the outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (see: http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/handle/10665/273088/SITREP_EVD_DRC_20180712-eng.pdf?ua=1). The risk for national spread within the DRC as well as to the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic remains, but the risk of international spread, including to South Africa is considered to be low. There are no special precautions or directives for commercial flights, passengers or crew departing on flights bound for DRC or returning from DRC. The regulations for evidence of a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate apply. Precautions against malaria should be applied as per routine practice. Malaria must be considered a high priority in the investigation and management of any febrile traveller.