Health officials recorded 121 new cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) over a one-week period according to figures published Tuesday, May 21, bringing the total number of cases in North Kivu and Ituri provinces to 1826. The outbreak has resulted in 1218 deaths.
According to the WHO, there have been 131 attacks on health centers in Ebola-stricken areas of the DRC as of Tuesday. These attacks have resulted in five deaths and some 40 injuries of health workers and patients.
Attacks on Ebola treatment centers have hindered efforts to contain the disease and further cases are likely in the near term. There remains a risk of regional transmission give the region's high level of insecurity, porous borders, transient population, and continued attacks on treatment centers and health workers.
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.
While the number of Ebola cases has intensified in recent weeks and months, the WHO's Emergency Committee concluded on April 12, that the outbreak in the DRC does not constitute a public health emergency of international concern.
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.
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