Ebola virus disease in Democratic Republic of Congo
Updated: June 08, 2018
- Updates were made on Ebola vaccine, level of risk in the region, exit screening measures, and recommendations for returning travellers.
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 cases of Ebola virus disease and associated deaths in the Bikoro, Iboko and Wangata health zones. All affected health zones 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 risk of this outbreak spreading to other countries in the central African region is high. 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: Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
The WHO considers the risk of global spread to be low.
There is currently no licensed vaccine or treatment for Ebola. However, an investigational Ebola vaccine (not yet licensed) called rVSV-ZEBOV is being used as part of the public health response to this outbreak. See the Government of Canada's Update on the Outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in the DRC for more information.
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).
When travelling within the DRC, to neighbouring countries or exiting the DRC, travellers may be screened for signs of Ebola virus disease (eg. a fever) and/or the possibility that they may have been exposed to the Ebola virus.
Those who are showing symptoms of Ebola virus disease or know they have been exposed to the virus, will not be allowed to travel on commercial flights, buses, trains or ships.
You should not travel if you know you have been exposed to —or are sick with— Ebola virus disease. You should seek medical care immediately.
After your trip:
Be aware of the symptoms of Ebola and monitor your health.
If you start feeling sick on your way home, tell a flight attendant on board, or a border service officer when entering Canada. They will notify a quarantine officer who can assess your symptoms.
Travellers who are most at risk and have been exposed to infected people or animals should tell a border service agent as required by the Quarantine Act [Section 15 (2)].
Travellers not at risk and who do not have symptoms similar to Ebola are not required to tell a border service agent that they have visited an area affected by Ebola virus disease.
If you develop symptoms similar to Ebola within 21 days of your 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.
If you are a humanitarian aid worker, follow the guidance provided to you by your organization.
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.
- Date modified: