Meera Senthilingam and Debra Goldschmidt, May 11, 2018
The World Health Organization is preparing for the “worst-case scenario” as it continues to respond to the Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Peter Salama, deputy director-general of emergency preparedness and response at the WHO, said in Geneva, Switzerland, on Friday that it’s “going to be tough and it’s going to be costly to stamp out this outbreak.”
There have been 34 cases of Ebola virus disease reported during the past five weeks, the WHO said Friday. Of those, two have been confirmed using laboratory tests, 14 are suspected, and 18 — who are deceased — are considered probable for the disease. Three of the patients are health care workers.
“The number of suspected, probable and confirmed cases is significant, so we are very concerned, and we are planning for all scenarios, including the worst-case scenario,” Salama said.
Comment: WHO got caught with it’s pants down with the last outbreak. At least they are trying to get in front of this one.
Jon Cohen May 15, 2018
The first ever effort to use a vaccine to stop an Ebola outbreak in its initial stages is taking shape in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The international response to health emergencies in sub-Saharan Africa is often maddeningly slow. But this time around, international agencies and the DRC government sprang into action, hoping to quickly extinguish the outbreak.
“Everything is organized,” says virologist Yap Boum, who works with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and is helping launch the vaccine effort. Boum, who lives in Yaoundé, Cameroon, began planning his trip to the DRC as soon as it confirmed on 8 May that two Ebola cases had occurred in the remote Bikoro health district in the Équateur province.
By tracing contacts between the infected people and others who had Ebola symptoms, such as high fevers and diarrhea, the DRC’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) determined that the virus has likely been spreading since early April. As Science went to press, a total of 25 other probable cases and 14 suspected ones had been identified in Bikoro and two adjacent health districts. Nineteen of these people have died.
Boum says the most alarming news from the DRC so far is that two of the probable cases are in Mbandaka, a port city of 1.2 million people. “The possibility of the virus spreading is huge,” adds Boum, noting that while Ebola is incubating undetected—which can take several weeks—the victim is already infectious. DRC President Joseph Kabila has authorized MOPH to use every tool at its disposal, including the experimental vaccine against Ebola, which worked spectacularly well in a clinical trial that Boum helped run in Guinea in 2015 at the tail end of the recent West African epidemic.
Cara Anna | May 17
The global health community gulped Thursday with the announcement that a case of Ebola had been confirmed in a city of more than 1 million
in Congo, bringing the latest outbreak of the often deadly hemorrhagic fever out of remote rural areas. “Confirmation of urban #Ebola in #DRC is a game changer in this outbreak – the challenge just got much much tougher,” the World Health Organization’s emergencies chief, Dr. Peter Salama, said on Twitter. Here’s a look at the outbreak.
Congo Health Minister Oly Ilunga says he is worried because Mbandaka is densely populated and at the crossroads of Equateur province. The city lies on the Congo River, a crucial travel hub in the vast country where infrastructure is largely poor. Downstream is Congo’s capital, Kinshasa, with a population of roughly 10 million.
By Helen Branswell @HelenBranswell
May 17, 2018
The World Health Organization has convened a special committee of experts to help guide its response to the expanding Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. During its first meeting on Friday, the group will be asked if the outbreak should be declared an international health emergency.
Comment: Tomorrow. The WHO is not messing around this time.
Posted onMay 17, 2018
The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) Ministry of Health (MOH) today announced that 1 of 2 suspected EVD cases in the Wangata Health Zone has tested positive for Ebola virus.
This is of particular concern as the case reportedly occurred within Mbandaka, the capital of Équateur province and a city of approximately 1 million people.
MSF maps  show the city of Mbandaka sitting in the Mbandaka Health Zone, not the Wangata Health Zone so someone is a bit confused.
Now is certainly a good time to have the experimental Ebola virus vaccine (V920) onsite and ready to be distributed to healthcare workers and contacts of cases in a ring vaccination format. This approach encircles cases with vaccinated people to prevent further spread from known foci of infection.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – A recently identified pig virus can readily find its way into laboratory-cultured cells of people and other species, a discovery that raises concerns about the potential for outbreaks that threaten human and animal health.
Researchers at The Ohio State University and Utrecht University in the Netherlands collaborated to better understand the new virus and its potential reach. Their study, the first to point to possible transmission of this virus between species, appears online in the journal PNAS.
Porcine deltacoronavirus was first identified in 2012 in pigs in China, but it was not associated with disease. It was first detected in the United States in 2014 during a diarrhea outbreak in Ohio pigs and has since been detected in various countries. Young, infected pigs experience acute diarrhea and vomiting. The disease can be fatal. As of yet, no human cases have been documented, but scientists are concerned about the possibility.
Comment: Other coronaviruses include MERS and SARS.