Watch – Ebola in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Warning – Level 3, Avoid Nonessential Travel

Alert – Level 2, Practice Enhanced Precautions

Watch – Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions

What is Ebola?

Ebola virus disease (also known as Ebola hemorrhagic fever) is a rare and deadly disease that periodically causes outbreaks in several African countries. It is spread by direct contact with blood or body fluids of a person infected with Ebola virus. It is also spread by contact with contaminated objects or infected animals.

Symptoms include fever, headache, joint and muscle aches, sore throat, and weakness, followed by diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach pain. Skin rash, red eyes, and internal and external bleeding may be seen in some patients.

Key Points

  • The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has declared a new outbreak of Ebola in the Bikoro area, Equateur province in the northwest corner of the country.
  • The risk for most travelers to the DRC is low outside of the Bikoro area, but travelers could be infected if they come into contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids.
  • Travelers should seek medical care immediately if they develop symptoms of fever, headache, body aches, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash, or red eyes during or after travel.

What is the current situation?

DRC has declared a new outbreak of Ebola. As of May 8, 2018, two cases of Ebola have been confirmed in the Bikoro health zone, Equateur province of northwest DRC. Additional suspected cases of Ebola, including some deaths, have been reported but not yet confirmed.

Who is at risk?

The risk to most travelers to the DRC is low. Travelers to the Bikoro area could be infected if they come into contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids. Health care workers caring for patients with Ebola and family and friends caring for an infected person are at highest risk.

What can travelers do to protect themselves?

There is no approved or widely available vaccine, or specific treatment for Ebola, and many people who get the disease die. Therefore, it is important to take steps to prevent Ebola.

  • Take steps to prevent illness.
    • Avoid contact with other people’s blood or body fluids.
    • Do not handle items that may have come in contact with a person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).
    • Avoid contact with animals or with raw bush meat.
    • Avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling a dead body.
  • Pay attention to your health during travel and after you leave the DRC.
    • Monitor your health for fever and other symptoms for 21 days.
    • Seek medical care immediately if you have traveled to the DRC and have been exposed to body fluids and develop symptoms of fever, headache, body aches, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash, or red eyes.
    • Tell the doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms before you go to his or her office or emergency room. Advance notice will help the doctor care for you and protect other people who may be in the office or hospital.

Special Recommendations for Health Care Workers in the Outbreak Area

Health care workers whose work puts them at risk of exposure to patients with Ebola should follow these steps:

Traveler Information 

Clinician Information

Information for Airline Personnel

Source: Travel Health

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