An outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) is ongoing in three northeastern provinces as of mid-February. The World Health Organization (WHO), - which recently extended the emergency status of Ebola in Democratic Republic of Congo - reported on Tuesday, February 11, that at least 3432 EVD cases have been recorded nationwide since the start of the outbreak in August 1, 2018, with most cases concentrated in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri provinces. Officials also confirmed 2249 associated deaths.
Further spread of the disease is expected over the coming weeks and months.
On July 17, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the ongoing EVD epidemic in the DRC's North Kivu and Ituri provinces constitutes a "public health emergency of international concern." The WHO defines a "public health emergency of international concern" as an "extraordinary event" that constitutes a public health risk to multiple states through the cross border spread of a disease which may require an international response.
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.
Individuals in affected provinces are advised to monitor the situation, remain vigilant for militant activity, and take measures to prevent the contraction and spread of Ebola virus disease (EVD), including:
- 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 appropriate protective wear.
- Animal products (e.g. 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.).
Individuals exhibiting the abovementioned symptoms and traveling in an area of active EVD transmission should seek immediate medical attention and comply with all directives issued by local health authorities.
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