At least 50 confirmed and probable cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD), including 25 associated deaths, had been reported in the DRC's Équateur province as of Wednesday, May 30. The DRC's Ministry of Public Health stated late on Thursday, May 31 (local time), that over 680 people had been recently vaccinated against EVD in areas affected by the outbreak, including almost 500 people in Mbandaka since Monday, May 21. Over 110 have been vaccinated in the Bikoro health zone, as well as 70 others in the Iboko health zone. Despite the ongoing vaccination campaign, further spread of EVD is expected in the coming months. The World Health Organization (WHO) is reportedly planning on having to respond to between 100 and 300 cases of the EVD between May and July.
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, an 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 affected areas 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.)
Individuals exhibiting the abovementioned symptoms - particularly after potential exposure to disease vectors - should seek immediate medical attention. Comply with all directives issued by local health authorities.
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