On Wednesday, October 17, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated that the Ebola outbreak ongoing since August in North Kivu and Ituri provinces was concerning but the body has not declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). At least 216 cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) were reported in the DRC between August 1 and October 16. Of these 216 cases, 181 have been confirmed by health officials, including 139 associated deaths. The outbreak is currently ongoing in the Beni, Butembo, Kalunguta, Mabalako, Masereka, Musienene, and Oicha health zones in North Kivu province and in the adjacent Mandima health zone in Ituri province. The WHO remains concerned about the risk of domestic and regional transmission given the area's insecurity, high numbers of displaced persons, and the threat of continued 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 above areas 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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