The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that as of Friday, August 21, the number of reported cases of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Equateur province has risen to 100. The development marks a near two-fold increase in cases over five weeks. Since the declaration of the outbreak on June 1, the virus has spread from Mbandaka to 11 of Equateur's 17 health zones. A total of 43 fatalities have been reported in connection with the outbreak.
The response to the outbreak currently faces logistical difficulties and underfunding. Recently, health workers went on strike in Mbandaka over unpaid wages. The strike was ended after authorities promised to launch an investigation.
Further spread of the disease is likely over the near term.
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 the later stages, internal and external hemorrhaging.
The latest EVD epidemic is the third to hit the DRC in the last two years, and the second in Mbandaka after a previous outbreak in 2018 that killed 33 people.
Individuals in Equateur province are advised to monitor the situation and take measures to prevent the contraction and spread of 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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