Mortality among PCR negative admitted Ebola suspects during the 2014/15 outbreak in Conakry, Guinea
Journal Contribution - Journal Article
Non-cases are suspect Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) cases testing negative by EVD RT-PCR after admission to an Ebola Treatment Centre (ETC). Admitting non-cases to an ETC prompts concerns on case- and workload in the ETC, risk for nosocomial EVD infection, and delays in diagnosis and disease-specific treatment. We retrospectively analysed characteristics, outcomes and determinants of death of EVD cases and non-cases admitted to the Conakry ETC in Guinea between 03/2014 and 09/2015. Of the 2362 admitted suspects who underwent full confirmatory PCR testing, 1540 (65.2%) were non-cases; among them 727 needed repeated confirmatory PCR testing resulting in 2.5 days (average) in the ETC isolation ward. Twenty-one patients tested positive on the repeat test, most in a period of flawed sampling for the initial test and none after introduction of PCR confirmation with geneXpert. No readmissions following nosocomial EVD infection were recorded. No combination of symptoms yielded acceptable sensitivity and specificity to allow differentiating confirmed from non-cases. Symptoms as ocular bleeding/redness have high specificity, but limited usefulness as not common. Admission delay and age distribution were not different for both groups. In total, 98 (20.6%) of 475 deaths in the ETC were non-cases. Most died within 24 hours after admission. Living in Conakry (aOR 1.78 (1.08-2.96)) was the strongest risk factor for death. Weeks with higher admission load had lower case fatality among non-cases, probably because more acute (and treatable) illnesses of contacts of known cases were admitted. These findings show high numbers of potentially critically ill non-cases need to be considered when setting up triage and referral of EVD suspect cases. Symptoms and risk factors alone do not allow differentiating the non-cases. Integration of highly-sensitive EVD diagnostic methods with short turnaround time in the triage of peripheral hospitals and dropping the systematic 2nd PCR for symptomatic early presenters could limit delays in access to adapted care of cases and seriously ill non-cases. Whether feasible without compromising outbreak control, and under which conditions, should be further assessed.