On Thursday, June 7, health officials announced the first confirmed case of Ebola (EVD) in over a week, in the Iboko health zone, stating that significant progress had been made to contain the spread of the disease. Over 1800 people, including health workers, have been vaccinated in areas affected by the outbreak, such as Mbandaka, in the Bikoro health zone, and Iboko. However, health officials continue to be cautious notably due to the location of the outbreak, which is directly upstream the Congo River from the capital Kinshasa. Furthermore, five new suspected cases were reported in Mbandaka on June 7. In all, 38 cases of EVD have been confirmed, along with another 14 probable and ten suspected cases; a total of 27 associated deaths have been reported.
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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