Update on the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in the Democratic Republic of the Congo 

Current situation

The outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD) reported on August 1, 2018, by the Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is ongoing and is now the largest ever reported in the DRC and the second largest worldwide.

While the risk of international spread is low, the World Health Organization (WHO) has determined that the risk of this outbreak spreading to other provinces of the DRC and bordering countries is very high. This is due to the displacement of refugees, the security situation and other epidemics occurring in the area.

On July 17, 2019, the WHO declared this Ebola outbreak to be a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

This is the tenth EVD outbreak in the DRC since the virus was first discovered in 1976. The last outbreak took place in May 2018 and was declared over on July 24, 2018.

Cases of EVD have occurred in both cities and rural areas in North Kivu, South Kivu and Ituri provinces. Confirmed cases with links to the affected areas in the DRC have been reported in the neighbouring country of Uganda. Because this outbreak is ongoing, the reporting and investigation of suspected cases in nearby countries is normal and expected. In partnership with local governments, aid agencies and other countries, the WHO is coordinating international response efforts for both confirmed and suspected cases.

The Government of Canada continues to closely monitor the evolving situation and response, support the international response, and provide advice on personal protective measures to Canadians travelling and working in the DRC.

Causes

The current outbreak is being caused by the Zaire ebolavirus. This is one of 4 species of Ebola virus known to cause EVD in humans. This particular species was responsible for the West-African outbreak from 2014 to 2016 and is the species targeted by the current investigational vaccine.

Vaccination

Vaccination is one of several measures being used to help control the outbreak in the DRC. Outbreak responders are using the investigational Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV, developed by researchers at the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory.

There is currently no approved vaccine available to travellers to prevent EVD. Travellers are urged to practice special precautions if travelling in the affected region.

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