The Travel Health and Vaccine Specialists

Health Alert


Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of Congo

Updated June 4, 2018

Updated: May 18, 2018

Information regarding number of cases, deaths and regional risk has been updated
Original publication date: May 9, 2018
What is the situation?
On May 8, 2018, an outbreak of Ebola virus disease was declared in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The DRC has reported 44 cases of Ebola virus disease (three confirmed, 21 suspected and 20 probable) and 23 associated deaths. The affected areas include the Bikoro, Iboko and Wangata health zones. All are in the Equateur province, located in the north-western part of the country. The World Health Organization (WHO) and other partners are working with the Ministry of Health in the DRC to control the current outbreak.

The last outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the DRC was reported in May 2017. That outbreak was quickly contained and ended within two months.

The risk of this outbreak spreading to other countries in the central African region is moderate. The affected DRC province has a shared border with two countries: the Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. This increases the risk of cases occurring in these countries. The WHO is working with all nine countries that neighbour DRC on Ebola virus disease preparedness.

The nine countries include:

Central African Republic
Republic of Congo
South Sudan
The WHO considers the risk of global spread to be low.

What is the Ebola virus disease?
Ebola virus disease 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 or body fluids from someone who is or has been infected with the Ebola virus
bodies of people who died of Ebola virus disease
medical equipment or personal belongings contaminated with infected body fluids
Symptoms of Ebola virus disease include rash, chills, fever, headache, sore throat, muscle pain and weakness, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. It can then become more severe, with some people experiencing severe bleeding (hemorrhaging), loss of consciousness and death. Symptoms can begin two to 21 days after exposure.

How can you protect yourself from Ebola virus disease?
Before your trip:

Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel. Make sure your routine vaccines are up to date.

During your trip:

Practice strict hand washing routines.
Avoid contact with bodies and body fluids of people with Ebola virus disease or who have died of Ebola virus disease or unknown illnesses.
Health care workers 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 Ebola virus disease.
Avoid contact with medical equipment, such as needles, and personal belongings that may have been contaminated with body fluids of people with Ebola virus disease or other unknown illnesses.
Avoid unprotected sexual activity with an infected person or a person recovering from Ebola virus disease. 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 live or dead animals, as both can spread the virus. Animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope, pigs, porcupines, duikers and fruit bats may be carriers.
Avoid handling raw or undercooked meat.
Avoid consuming any bush meat (meat from animals caught in the wild).
After your trip:

Monitor your health. If you develop symptoms similar to Ebola virus disease when you are travelling or after you return, call your health care provider immediately. Describe your symptoms over the phone before your appointment so the clinic can arrange to see you without exposing others. Tell them where you have been travelling or living.

Registration of Canadians Abroad
Sign up with the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) service to stay connected with the Government of Canada in case of an emergency abroad or an emergency at home.

Information for Health Professionals
Useful resources for clinical guidance:

Government of Canada webpage For health professionals: Ebola virus disease.
Related links
Sickness or injury
If you get sick after travelling
Travel advice and advisories
Other Resources
Government of Canada – Ebola virus disease fact sheet
World Health Organization – Ebola virus disease fact sheet

Date modified: 2017-04-05