On Friday, May 11, health officials in Équateur province reported at least 32 Ebola cases, including 18 fatal cases, throughout the province since April 4. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced it considers the risk of the outbreak spreading to be high. Nigeria, Ghana, and Gabon have implemented health inspections at ports of entry for all passengers arriving from the DRC.
The Ebola virus disease (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.
Though the latest outbreak has been contained, given the highly infectious nature of the disease travelers should avoid the area 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 (wash hands regularly, etc.)
- Avoid crowded areas (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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