World Health Organization (WHO) officials announced on Tuesday, March 3, that the final Ebola virus disease (EVD) patient has been released from a hospital in Beni, North Kivu province. According to the WHO, the outbreak will be declared over if no new cases are reported within 42 days from when the last reported case tested negative on Monday, March 2. Health workers are still monitoring 46 people who came in contact with the last patient as a precaution. The WHO also warned that it is possible other transmissions of Ebola occurred outside of the groups currently being monitored, due to the complex security situation in the region.
Further spread of the disease is possible over the coming weeks and months.
The outbreak began on August 1, 2018, with most cases concentrated in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri provinces. As of March 1, there have been 3444 confirmed and probable cases of Ebola recorded in the affected area, along with 2264 associated fatalities.
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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