The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that at least 35 suspected cases of Ebola, including 18 fatal cases, have been reported in the Democratic Republic of Congo between April 4 and May 13. The most affected area appears Bikoro and the area surrounding the town. The WHO is planning to begin a vaccination campaign in the area using an experimental vaccine against Ebola virus later on the week of Monday, May 14. To prevent further spread of the disease, Nigeria, Ghana, and Gabon have implemented health inspections at ports of entry for all passengers arriving from 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.
From December 2013 to June 2016, a Ebola outbreak led to over 28,000 suspected cases and 11,310 deaths in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea, Nigeria, and Mali.
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.