Health officials confirmed on Monday, August 19, that an individual in South Kivu province has tested positive for Ebola virus disease (EVD), making it the third confirmed case in the region. The developments come as officials in North Kivu also confirmed a new case in the remote village of Pinga, which is controlled by Maï-Maï militiamen.
Health officials in the area are attempting to contain the spread of EVD by vaccinating individuals who may have come into contact with the three infected people. As of Saturday, August 17, at least 2783 confirmed cases of EVD have been reported in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri provinces, with more than 1840 confirmed deaths.
The risk of regional transmission remains high given the region's high level of insecurity, porous borders, and transient population.
On July 17, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the ongoing Ebola virus disease (EVD) epidemic in the DRC's North Kivu and Ituri provinces constitutes a "public health emergency of international concern." The WHO defines a "public health emergency of international concern" as an "extraordinary event" that constitutes a public health risk to multiple states through the international spread of a disease and which may require an international response. EVD is currently present in North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri provinces.
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 areas affected by the outbreak 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 appropriate protective wear.
- Animal products (e.g. 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.).
Individuals exhibiting the abovementioned symptoms and traveling in an area of active EVD transmission should seek immediate medical attention and comply with all directives issued by local health authorities.
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