The Congolese Ministry of Health reported additional deaths from Ebola in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo on Sunday, September 16, as the outbreak enters its seventh week. According to the health ministry, at least 97 people have died since August 1, with 142 total cases of the disease in North Kivu and Ituri provinces. Three of the most recent fatalities were recorded in Beni and probable and confirmed cases were reported in Butembo and Mabalako health zones, all of which were linked to a community in Beni. The outbreak is currently located in Beni, Butembo, Kalunguta, Mabalako, Masereka, Musienene, and Oicha health zones in North Kivu province and the adjacent Mandima health zone in Ituri province. The World Health Organization (WHO) remains concerned about the risk of national and regional transmission given the area's insecurity, high numbers of displaced persons, and the threat of violence hampering response efforts.
EVD is extremely virulent. The disease is transmitted to humans via direct contact with the blood, secretions, organs, or other bodily fluids of infected animals. The disease can then be transmitted between humans and is highly contagious, particularly during the hemorrhagic phase. Ebola is characterized by the sudden onset of high fever, weakness, joint and muscle pain, and headache. A sore throat is also a common early symptom. These symptoms are followed by nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, kidney and liver failure, and, in some cases, internal and external bleeding.
Travelers should avoid the area and monitor the situation. To prevent the spread of EVD:
- Avoid contact with infected individuals and any items that have been in their close proximity
- Avoid consuming bush meat and only handle animals when wearing gloves and the appropriate protective wear
- Animal products (meat and blood) should be thoroughly cooked before consumption
- Adhere to a strict observance of hygienic precautions (wash hands regularly, etc.)
- Avoid crowded areas (stadiums, markets, train stations, etc.) In case of doubt, individuals should seek immediate medical attention and comply with all directives issued by local health authorities.
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