Nov 23, 2018

2. Ebola outbreak in Congo getting close to becoming 2nd biggest ever

Data: Ministry of Health DRC; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) continues to steadily grow — creeping closer to becoming the second largest outbreak recorded globally (current second highest is 425 cases). Today, the DRC reported 399 confirmed and probable cases for this outbreak that started Aug. 1.

Why it matters: The country is grappling with the combination of a deadly virus in areas of conflict, multiple other diseases, and attempts to prepare safe locations for upcoming elections next month.

DRC's Ministry of Health says it is sending additional rapid response teams for "defensive" purposes to the city of Butembo, which has roughly 1 million people and is located south of the epicenter of Beni. There's been a worrisome uptick in cases there.

The World Health Organization issued an External Situation Report Wednesday that says they "remain confident" the outbreak can be contained, despite the continued challenges.

  • This was despite last Friday's deadly attack in Beni that forced the WHO and others to halt for several days their work to quarantine, vaccinate and treat people who were in contact with known infected people.
  • WHO's report also notes Ebola is not the only disease DRC's Ministry of Health is fighting — there's also vaccine-derived poliovirus, as well as cholera, measles and monkeypox.
  • Meanwhile, the WHO also warned that more Ebola cases are being reported in children between the ages of two and 17 years old, which is unusual for this disease.
  • However, WHO's Peter Salama praised the community outreach programs, which he says has been encouraging more people to seek treatment earlier — a key factor in stopping the spread in the disease.

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Measles-related death toll tops 6,000 in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Deaths from measles in the Democratic Republic of the Congo surpassed 6,000, with children over the age of 5 most vulnerable to the infectious disease, new data from the World Health Organization showed Tuesday.

Why it matters: About 310,000 suspected measles cases, one-fourth of which are in kids over age 5, have been reported since the beginning of 2019. Vaccinations for children have made headway in some parts of the country, but public health officials are still trying to keep the disease at bay.

Go deeper: DRC health leader discusses what's being done to fight Ebola

China virus kills one and spreads to Thailand, but U.S. threat remains minimal

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A mysterious virus discovered in Wuhan, China, is believed to have played a role in the death of a patient, while another case has been reported by a person who traveled from Wuhan to Thailand, the World Health Organization confirmed Monday.

The latest: Chinese officials said Sunday that one out of 41 confirmed patients has died, but cautioned that they had underlying health issues. A public health official said the U.S. is not overly concerned the virus might spread here.

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Officials warn measles patients passed through 5 major U.S. airports this month

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Travelers with confirmed cases of measles passed through five U.S. airports this month and exposed an unknown number of passengers to the disease, ABC News reports, citing city health officials.

Why it matters: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says measles, a highly contagious virus that can spread from an infected person through coughing and sneezing, can live for up to two hours in an airspace where the the person coughed or sneezed.

Go deeperArrowDec 23, 2019