Ebola update from ALC Health

While the outbreak is still not contained and expected to last for the next six months, an increasing number of neighbouring countries have closed their borders with the affected countries during the week.

This week-end, Democratic Republic of Congo has reported several confirmed cases of Ebola in the remote Northern Equateur province. This outbreak is not considered in any way related with the ongoing outbreak in West Africa. Quarantine measures in a radius of 100 km around the location have been announced by the Ministry of Health and no travel advisories for Congo Have been issued.

Health workers are paying a heavy toll to the disease with 240 of them infected and 120 fatalities. This is creating a lack of medical staff in health facilities which are already overwhelmed. WHO is calling for international support from the healthcare professionals.

An experimental treatment (ZMAPP) which had thus far never been tested in humans has raised hopes after the recovery of two US aid workers who were discharged from hospital after being given the treatment. It has not been confirmed that the treatment was the reason for the cure. A Japanese company has announced introduction of an antiviral medication that may help counteract the Ebola virus, but it is in very early stages and untested on animals or humans. Therefore it is important to keep in mind that Ebola remains a disease without available specific treatment.

Locally the risk remains low for (non- healthcare workers) expatriates or travellers who follow strict hygiene rules by avoiding close contact with the patients or contaminated materials in high risk environments. However, expect a heightened state of alert related to the outbreak, resulting in more restrictions on travel. Additionally, expect that transportation entities and government authorities will act very cautiously to enable evacuation of any ill or injured foreigners in Ebola affected areas.

For all above reasons, the general recommendation remains to avoid or interrupt any travel to the countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia for non- essential personnel.