Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of Congo
Updated: February 21, 2019
- Travel Health Notice has been upgraded to a Level 2 – Practice Special Precautions.
Original publication date: May 9, 2018
The ongoing outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was originally reported on August 1, 2018. This outbreak now represents the largest ever reported in the DRC and the second largest worldwide. EVD has been reported in both cities and rural areas in North Kivu and Ituri provinces, located in the northeastern part of the country. The risk of this outbreak spreading to other parts of the DRC is very high.
The affected provinces in the DRC share borders with Uganda, Rwanda, and South Sudan. There is a potential risk for transmission of EVD at the national and regional levels due to extensive travel between the affected areas, the rest of the country, and neighbouring countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the risk of global spread to be low.
The Government of Canada recommends that Canadians avoid all non-essential travel to the DRC, and to avoid all travel to the eastern and northeastern areas of the DRC (including the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri), due to the current political and security situation. This situation is making it difficult to control the outbreak and may make it difficult for Canadian travellers to receive health care services in those regions.
For the latest information, please see the WHO Ebola situation reports. The WHO and other partners are working with the Ministry of Health in the DRC to control the current outbreak.
About Ebola virus disease
Ebola virus disease (EVD) is a severe and often fatal viral disease. It is transmitted to humans through contact with infected animals. It can also spread from person to person through contact with:
- blood, body fluids or tissue from someone who is or has been infected with the Ebola virus
- bodies of people who died of EVD
- medical equipment, environmental surfaces (floors, door knobs, tabletops), or personal belongings contaminated with infected body fluids
Symptoms of EVD include rash, chills, fever, headache, sore throat, muscle pain and weakness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It can become more severe, with some people experiencing severe bleeding (hemorrhaging), loss of consciousness and death.
Symptoms can begin 2 to 21 days after exposure.
There is currently no licensed vaccine available to travellers to prevent EVD. There is an investigational Ebola virus vaccine available for outbreak control.
The risk of infection for travellers who use proper personal protective measures is low.
See the Government of Canada’s Update on the Outbreak of EVD in the DRC for more information.
If you choose to travel, follow all Government of Canada recommendations regarding travel to this area. Consult a health care professional or visit a travel health clinic at least 6 weeks before you go and make sure your routine vaccines are up to date.
During your trip
Avoid contact with people with EVD, and their body fluids. Avoid contact with the bodies of people who have died of EVD or unknown illnesses.
Avoid unprotected sexual activity with an infected person or a person recovering from EVD. The virus can persist for an extended period of time in the semen of infected males and possibly vaginal secretions of infected females.
Avoid close contact with the following animals, alive or dead:
- forest antelope
- fruit bats
Avoid handling raw or undercooked meat and avoid eating bushmeat (meat from animals caught in the wild).
Practice strict hand washing routines and take other measures to prevent other infectious diseases (like those transmitted through food, water or insects) that may be mistaken for the early signs of Ebola or cause you to seek treatment in a health care facility.
Humanitarian aid workers and health professionals should practise strict infection control measures including the appropriate use of personal protective equipment (e.g., gowns, masks, goggles and gloves) when providing care for people suspected or confirmed of having EVD.
Avoid contact with medical equipment, such as needles, and personal belongings that may have been contaminated with body fluids of people with EVD or other unknown illnesses.
You should not continue to travel to another country or return home to Canada if you know you have been exposed to or experience symptoms of EVD. You should seek medical care immediately.
If you notice symptoms of EVD during the flight, tell the flight attendant before you land or the border services officer as you enter the country. They will notify a quarantine officer who will assess your symptoms.
After your trip
Returning travellers should be aware of the symptoms of EVD and monitor their health.
If you develop symptoms of EVD within 21 days of your return, call the appropriate public health authority immediately. Describe your symptoms over the phone and tell them where you have been travelling or living. They will make appropriate arrangements for your medical assessment. Follow the instructions provided to you by your public health authority.
Health care professionals and humanitarian aid workers should follow the guidance provided to them by their organization.
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