The Congolese Ministry of Health confirmed the first case of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in Goma (North Kivu province) on Sunday, July 14. The diagnosed patient reportedly traveled to Goma from Butembo (North Kivu province) on Sunday and government officials have stated that the risk of further spread in Goma is low and vaccination efforts are continuing with any individuals who came into contact with the patient. Goma is the provincial capital and largest city of North Kivu with an estimated population of 2 million.
The Ministry of Health released updated statistics on the EVD outbreak on Sunday. With 12 new confirmed cases and 10 deaths in the past week, the total cases of EVD reached 2489 with 1665 deaths. Further spread of the disease, particularly in northern North Kivu and southern Ituri provinces, including the cities of Butembo and Beni. There remains a risk of regional transmission give the region's high level of insecurity, porous borders, transient population, and continued attacks on treatment centers and health workers.
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.
Travelers should avoid the above 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 (e.g. wash hands regularly, etc.)
- Avoid crowded areas (e.g. 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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