Sunday, 21 May 2017

Ebola in the DRC: list of border-checking countries at seven...

Starting from WHO Regional Office for Africa Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) Situation Report No. 2,[1] there have been an increasing number of countries that are screening ill-looking people for EVD at their ports of entry. Currently [7] there are 7 and they are:

  • Kenya
  • Nigeria
  • Rwanda
  • South Africa
  • United Republic of Tanzania
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe 

Quite a few more than I listed yesterday. 

Latest EVD figures form the DRC.
Click on image to enlarge.
No borders are closed to travellers from, or who have travelled through, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which is good news.

Screenshot from SitRep No.5.[1]
Click on image to enlarge.
Presumably this screening relies on the appearance of signs of illness, questionnaires and perhaps thermal camera images to identify feverish people.

As I alluded to yesterday, these efforts are not very effective at actually picking up EVD cases from among a milieu of other febrile illness that stumble through a port of entry.

Studies - some of which are summed up in this Canadian review [2] - are usually not supportive of any practical benefit from using fever as a screening tool to pick out a single disease in passing travellers.[3,4,5] 

However, these screening efforts do play a role in making citizens and politicians feel better and more useful. The precautions may also be helpful in keeping travel flowing.[6] Whether the continued flow of travel during an epidemic that may leak from a hotzone is a good thing or not will no doubt (once again) be dissected after a more more transmissible pathogen sweeps across the world I expect.



Saturday, 20 May 2017

Ebola virus disease in the DRC: first graphs...

The World Health Organization have apparently found an outlet for their Ebola virus disease (EVD) reports for 2017's Democratic Republic of the Congo outbreak.

It's not the Disease Outbreak News site. It's not the WHO media page. It's not any of the past EVD outbreak pages on the central WHO site.

Turns out the Situation Reports (SitReps) are to be found on a new page on the WHO African site.[1] Okay. Why not? Found it eventually. I've plotted the first 4 (they started from 15th of May) below. Not much to say about trends at this early stage obviously!

Click on image to enlarge.
Don't go expecting to find how we got to the totals shown on the 15th - those may well be lost details. Or they may come out later. We'll have to wait and see. Outbreaks viewed from the public point of view are very much about patience and trying not to leap to any dramatic conclusions - like those decisions taken by at least one country in Africa to start screening passengers for signs of EVD.[2] It's your budget guys - spend up if it makes you feel safe. At this stage, and perhaps ever, its a pretty wasteful exercise though; apart from your citizens seeing you doing something.

Back to numbers. I'm pretty impressed with the WHOAfro SitRep - the 4th Report carries a detailed table of cases, deaths and locations and also a timeline graphic (below) which is fantastic. 

Click on image to enlarge.This image is part of SitRep No.4.[3]
And to wrap up, just for a glimpse of what has come before and where we are now (and because I promised @kristindownie I would!), I've also added an updated "EVD through time" bar graph. Where we are with the current outbreak total is highlighted using a red arrow and the towering totals of West Africa are indicated by yellow arrows.

Click on image to enlarge.



Saturday, 13 May 2017

Ebola returns to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC): Zaire...

The World Heath Organization alerted the world on May 12th [1] to an outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Likati, a remote region in the Bas-Uele province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).[4] The news had been communicated to them on the 11th May by the DRC Ministry of Heath.[6]

This is the 8th recorded outbreak in the DRC and it is hoped that their expertise, together with a range of rapidly mobilised outside expertise, will contain this one quickly and with a minimal loss of life.[5]

It reportedly took 10 days for the first samples to reach the lab in Kinshasa for testing.[8] Google estimates about 47 hours  to travel the ~3,000km from Kinshasa to Aketi (about 50km beyond Likati via Google's inland suggested route - doesn't account for off the 'main' road and forest parts) - it doesn't give estimates for Likati direct. The WHO explained...

See thread here if you use Twitter.
The journey to Likati is not an easy one.[16] Planes and helicopters are being used and there are questions around how secure the area is.[18] While remoteness is anecdotally beneficial for containing the spread of an outbreak, there are 2 clusters of illness and death outside of Bas-Uele, marked on the Ebola SitRep maps, which may test this theory.[17]

There are reportedly 300,000 (GAVI/Merck emergency stockpile [13])-700,000 doses of the  rVSV-ZEBOV vaccine which has been reported to be highly effective at preventing EVD.[3,9,10]

Early numbers were a bit confusing [2] - as often happens in the fog of announcement of an outbreak - but since 22nd April there seem to have been:
  • 20 suspected and confirmed cases in total [17]
    • 3 fatal cases (proportion of fatal cases: 15%)
    • 1 of 5 samples was initially laboratory confirmed (PCR) at Institut National de Recherche Biom├ędicale (INRB) in Kinshasa - it tested positive for Zaire ebolavirus
    • a 2nd case has since been Zaire ebolavirus lab confirmed [12]; 3 have tested negative [17]
    • at least 6 cases hospitalised [7]
    • ≧416 contacts being traced [17]
    • 1st case - 45 year old (or 39yo) male (45M) transported by taxi; died on arrival [11]
      • driver fell ill and died
      • carer of 45M fell ill and died (=25 contacts) 
    • Nambwa health district has notified the greatest number of the earliest cases: 13 in all, with 2 deaths (case fatality: 15%).[15]



Maps used to help place Likati and Bas-Uele...
      1. Fixed spelling mistakes in Likati, added detail about sampling delays
      2. Added references 10-12; noted 2 cases now confirmed, 19 suspect cases in total 
      3. Update on where the 300,000 vaccines come from [13]
      4. Update on contacts and ReliefWeb and WHO references
      5. New SitRep from WHOAfro - altered case & testing numbers