As of Friday, November 9, Congolese Ministry of Health officials have reported 326 cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in North Kivu and Ituri provinces since August 1, resulting in 201 fatalities. The current outbreak in eastern DRC is the worst in the country's history with the new figures considered. The outbreak is concentrated in North Kivu's capital of Beni with 140 confirmed cases, though it is present in a total of eight health zones in North Kivu (i.e. Musienene, Masereka, Butembo, Vuhovi, Mabalako, Kalunguta, Beni, and Oicha) and three in Ituri (Mandima, Komanda, and Tchomia). This represents a further geographical spread than previous weeks, with three additional cases reported in new health zones in Ituri. The World Health Organization (WHO) remains concerned with the risk of regional and international transmission given the area's insecurity, high number of displaced persons and refugees, porous borders, and the threat of violence inhibiting medical 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 (e.g., wash hands regularly, etc.)
- Avoid crowded areas (e.g., 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.
In case of doubt, individuals should seek immediate medical attention and comply with all directives issued by local health authorities.
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