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Outbreak update

In an outbreak update on the Ebola Virus Disease situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), health officials say the situation continues to evolve. According to the DRC Ministry of Health, from 4 April 2018 to 20 May 2018, a cumulative total of 51 EVD cases, including 27 deaths (case fatality rate 52.9%), have been reported. Of the 51 cases, 28 have been confirmed, 21 probable and two remain suspected cases. A total of five healthcare workers have been affected, with four confirmed cases and two deaths.

Image/qimono via pixabay
Image/qimono via pixabay

Currently, WHO considers the public health risk to be very high at the national level due to the serious nature of the disease, insufficient epidemiological information and the delay in the detection of initial cases, which makes it difficult to assess the magnitude and geographical extent of the outbreak. The confirmed case in Mbandaka, a large urban centre located on major national and international river, with road and air transport axes, increases the risk both of local propagation and further spread within DRC and to neighbouring countries. The risk at the regional level is therefore considered high. At the global level, the risk is currently considered low.


On Monday, May 21, 2018, the Minister of Health, Dr. Oly Ilunga Kalenga, officially launched the first vaccination campaign against Ebola Virus Disease in the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The first targets of vaccination are healthcare providers who have been directly exposed to confirmed cases of Ebola and who have the highest risk of developing the virus in the coming days. This Monday, a dozen health professionals volunteered to receive the vaccine. In the next 5 days, a hundred people should be vaccinated, including about seventy health professionals. The Minister of Health explained that the Government’s priority is to ensure that all these brave health professionals can do their job safely.

The first person to be vaccinated in this campaign was Dr. Guillaume Ngoie, Director of the Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI). With this gesture, he wanted to send a strong message to reassure the population about the safety of the Ebola vaccine, while recalling that even the vaccinated people must continue to respect all recommended preventive measures.

Where the virus could be unintentionally spread by travelers?

The global nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting wildlife, environmental, and public health from the emergence of disease, EcoHealth Alliance used its novel software, FLIRT (FLIght Risk Tracker), to determine where the virus could be unintentionally spread by travelers. FLIRT is designed to help identify where emerging infectious diseases can spread via infected passengers through established passenger flight networks and includes simulations of multi-leg journeys.

According to the World Health Organization, the current Ebola outbreak began near the town of Bikoro in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northwestern Équateur province and has now spread to the Mbandaka, the provincial capital. This begs the question: where should we be prepared for it to spread further?


Using flight data from the airports in Mbandaka, Kinshasa, and Brazzaville–those nearest Bikoro–EcoHealth Alliance has found the following cities to be most closely connected to the point of origin of the ongoing Ebola outbreak:

  1. Pointe-Noire, Republic of Congo
  2. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
  3. Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
  4. Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo
  5. Brussels, Belgium
  6. Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
  7. Paris, France
  8. Nairobi, Kenya
  9. Johannesburg, South Africa
  10. Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo

The top countries most closely connected to the point of outbreak are:

  1. Democratic Republic of Congo
  2. Republic of Congo
  3. Ethiopia
  4. Belgium
  5. France
  6. Kenya
  7. South Africa
  8. Gabon
  9. Morocco
  10. Côte d’Ivoire