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

Current situation

On August 1, 2018, the Ministry of Health in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) announced a cluster of cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the Mabalako Health Area in North Kivu province at the border with Uganda.  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.

While the risk of international spread is low, the WHO has determined that the public health risk is high at the national and regional level due to the displacement of refugees, the security situation and several epidemics occurring in the area including cholera, measles and Monkeypox.

The Government of Canada is closely monitoring the evolving situation and response, and providing advice on personal protective measures to Canadians travelling and working in the DRC.

Causes

Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), is a rare but severe viral disease (case fatality in humans ranges from 25-90%). Although the natural reservoir for the virus is in animals, humans can become infected through contact with the blood, organs, bodily fluids, or other secretions of infected animals.  Once introduced into human populations, EVD primarily spreads from person-to-person through close contact with the bodily fluids/secretions of infected human cases. Transmission is not known to occur through casual contact or the airborne route. 

Vaccination

Vaccination is one of several infection prevention and control measures used to control recent Ebola outbreaks. Public health partners in the DRC have now begun a vaccination campaign using the Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV, developed by researchers at the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory.

Due to limited vaccine availability, and the low level of risk that can be managed with personal protective measures, the vaccine is not available or recommended for travellers or other Canadians living or working in the DRC.

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