Rapid risk assessment: Ebola virus disease outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri Provinces, Democratic Republic of the Congo – first update

risk assessment
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European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Ebola virus disease outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri Provinces, Democratic Republic of the Congo – 4 October 2018. Stockholm: ECDC; 2018.

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This rapid risk assessment addresses the public health risk associated with the current Ebola virus disease outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and its implications for EU/EEA citizens. This is the first update of a rapid risk assessment originally produced on 9 August 2018.

Executive summary

As of 30 September 2018, the Ministry of Health of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reported 161 probable and confirmed cases of Ebola virus disease (EVD) in the Provinces of North Kivu and Ituri, making this the fourth largest outbreak of EVD recorded in DRC. Genetic analysis of the viral strains showed that there is no link between this outbreak and the one in Equateur province of DRC, reported in May this year.

The DRC Ministry of Health is implementing its EVD response plan in the affected areas, supported by the World Health Organization and a range of regional and global partners. Contact tracing and monitoring of case contacts are ongoing. The rVSV-ZEBOV experimental vaccine has been offered to healthcare and frontline workers, case contacts and their contacts. Preparedness activities are ongoing in neighbouring Congolese provinces and bordering countries.

Although no confirmed cases have been documented in neighbouring countries as of 30 September, the fact that the outbreak is ongoing in areas with important cross-border population flows (with Rwanda and Uganda) is  of particular concern. In addition, implementation of response measures in the field remains challenging because the outbreak is occurring in areas affected by prolonged humanitarian crises and an unstable security situation arising from a complex armed conflict.

The probability that EU/EEA citizens living or travelling in EVD-affected areas of DRC will be exposed to the disease is low, provided they adhere to the precautionary measures recommended below.

There are no international airports in the affected areas of DRC that offer direct flights to EU/EEA Member States, which limits the risk of the virus being introduced into the EU/EEA. The overall risk of introduction and further spread of Ebola virus within the EU/EEA is very low. However, the risk can only be eliminated by stopping transmission at local level.

WHO advises against any travel or trade restrictions.