POST 130. February 16, 2021. CORONAVIRUS. “A second person who had contracted the Ebola virus died this week in the Democratic Republic of Congo, marking another outbreak just three months after the nation outlasted the virus’s second-worst outbreak in history…”

This death comes one week after a 42-year-old woman died from Ebola. The wife of an Ebola survivor, she entered an intensive care unit Feb. 4 and died the same day. She was buried on Feb. 5, but not under proper burial practices to prevent the spread of Ebola; during prior outbreaks, the handling of bodies was kept to a minimum and done by trained teams.

The lab confirmed she tested positive for Ebola the day after she was buried.

During her illness, the woman visited three health centers after first seeking treatment following symptoms of a nosebleed on Jan. 25.

As of Feb. 8, health investigators were able to track a total of 117 contacts with the woman. It’s unclear whether the victim announced Thursday was in direct contact with the unnamed woman.

This new cluster marks the 12th outbreak of Ebola in Congo. Thousands of people have died from the virus in Congo in recent years. An outbreak that began in 2018 and the WHO declared over in June 2020 killed more than 2,000 people…”  (A)

“The number of people who might have been exposed to the virus has risen from over 70 on Monday to 182 as of Friday..” ….. He added that all but three of those people have been contacted and more than half of them were previously vaccinated against Ebola during prior outbreaks.

“We’re seeing some benefits of the previous vaccination, but obviously we have to look at the length of time that vaccine protects,” he said.

He added that new shipments of vaccine arrived in Butembo this week. Ultracold-chain storage equipment is being set up in Butembo and personnel are being trained, Ryan said.

The DRC also has other therapeutics, including Ebola monoclonal anitbody treatments, in the capital, Kinshasa, and another city, Mbandaka, Ryan said, adding that they will be airlifted into North Kivu over the weekend. The DRC has enough vaccine for 16,000 people in the country, Ryan said, but it’s not clear how much has arrived in Butembo….

The Ebola outbreak that was declared over in June lasted for nearly two years. It was the second-largest in the world and by the time it ended there were 3,481 total cases and 2,299 deaths, according to the WHO…

Unlike the highly infectious coronavirus, which can be spread by people who don’t have symptoms, Ebola is thought to mainly spread through people who are already visibly sick. The virus spreads through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of people who are sick or who died of the disease, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Ebola has an average case fatality rate of 50%, though it can vary by outbreak, according to the WHO.”  (B)

“Health officials in Guinea are rushing to contain the first outbreak of the deadly Ebola disease in the region since 2016, days after authorities detected new cases of the hemorrhagic fever in the Democratic Republic of Congo, testing a continent that is already battling the coronavirus pandemic.

Guinea was one of the three most-affected countries during the 2014-2016 epidemic. The current outbreak began in late January, but was only identified as the Ebola virus on Sunday, health officials said, suggesting it may have spread substantially in the intervening weeks.

The outbreak four years ago left more than 11,000 dead across West Africa. The new outbreak comes as the continent grapples with a steady rise of coronavirus infection rates, driven at least in part by a more transmissible variant first detected in South Africa.”  (C)

“Guinea has officially declared that it is dealing with an Ebola epidemic after the deaths of at least three people from the virus.

They – and four others – fell ill with diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding after attending the burial of a nurse.

Newly developed vaccines will be acquired through the World Health Organization (WHO), officials said…

In response to that epidemic, which mainly affected Guinea and its neighbours Liberia and Sierra Leone, several vaccines were trialled, which have since been successfully used to fight outbreaks in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The WHO is on full alert and is in contact with the manufacturer [of a vaccine] to ensure the necessary doses are made available as quickly as possible to help fight back,” the AFP news agency quotes Alfred George Ki-Zerbo, the WHO representative in Guinea, as saying…

This new outbreak is in roughly the same area where the epidemic began in December 2013.

Given the cross border trade between Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and their relatively weak healthcare systems, there is concern the outbreak could spread.

Liberia’s President George Weah has put the health authorities on heightened alert.

The BBC’s Umaru Fofana in Sierra Leone says there is far more fear of Ebola in the country than Covid-19.

He says the existence of new vaccines does provide some sense of relief – there is a global emergency stockpile of 500,000, made available through Gavi, the international vaccine alliance.

The three countries have a joint population of 22.5 million, prompting concerns that manufacturers would have little time to produce more if needed at a time when Covid vaccines are their preoccupation, our reporter says.

Experts say containment is key to fighting the disease. During the 2015 trial in Guinea – 100 patients were identified and then close contacts were either vaccinated immediately, or three weeks later. In the 2,014 close contacts who were vaccinated immediately there were no subsequent cases of Ebola.” (D)

“Fighting Ebola again will place additional strain on health services in Guinea as they also battle the COVID-19 pandemic. Guinea, a country of about 12 million people, has so far recorded 14,895 coronavirus infections and 84 deaths…

Given how close the new outbreak is to the border, the WHO is working with health authorities in Liberia and Sierra Leone to beef up surveillance and testing capacities, the statement said.

The vaccines and improved treatments helped efforts to end the second-largest Ebola outbreak on record, which was declared over in Democratic Republic of Congo last June after nearly two years and more than 2,200 deaths.

But on Sunday, DRC reported a fourth new case of Ebola in North Kivu province, where a resurgence of the virus was announced on Feb. 7.” (E)


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