Congolese Ministry of Health officials reported 458 cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in North Kivu and Ituri provinces between August 1 and December 7, resulting in 271 fatalities. The outbreak is concentrated in North Kivu's capital Beni, although it is also present in 11 other health zones in North Kivu (i.e., Musienene, Masereka, Butembo, Vuhovi, Mabalako, Kalunguta, Beni, Katwa, Kyondo, Lubero, and Oicha) and three in Ituri (Mandima, Komanda, and Tchomia). The World Health Organization (WHO) remains concerned with the risk of regional and international transmission given the area's insecurity, high number of displaced persons and refugees, porous borders, and the threat of violence inhibiting medical efforts. According to the Minister of Health, the outbreak is likely to continue for some months.
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.
In case of doubt, individuals should seek immediate medical attention and comply with all directives issued by local health authorities.