Taiwan issues travel alert for DR Congo due to Ebola outbreak


Taipei, May 15 (CNA) Taiwan’s Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Tuesday issued a travel warning for the Democratic Republic of Congo, citing a new outbreak of the Ebola virus there.

In its Level 2 travel advisory, the CDC cautioned against travel to the affected areas and urged people to stay away from wildlife if such visits cannot be avoided and to take preventative measures against infection.

CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said two cases of Ebola infection were confirmed in a remote area near the town of Bikoro in Equateur Province, northwest Congo, between April 4 and May 13.

During that period, 25 very likely cases of Ebola, 12 suspected cases, and 19 resulting deaths were reported in the same area, he said, adding that three of the fatalities were health care personnel.

In addition, some 120 cases of an unidentified infection were reported in the Congo’s northeastern province of Ituri between March and April, Lo said.

Citing the World Health Organization, he said that although the outbreaks were limited to remote areas, there was no way of determining the scope of the problem because of the scant epidemiological and demographic information in the African country.

Under the CDC’s three-tier system, a Level 3 travel advisory warns against all non-essential travel to the listed areas, Level 2 urges travelers to the affected areas to be on their guard against infection, and Level 1 advises travelers to take precautions.

The Ebola outbreak is the ninth since the discovery of the virus in Congo in 1976, according to the United Nations.

The virus is transmitted to humans through contact with wild animals and can then be passed from person to person, causing acute, serious and often fatal illness, according to the U.N.

Ebola is filovirus that causes hemorrhagic fever and internal bleeding and can be passed on to humans from animal hosts such as monkeys, apes and bats, through direct contact with infected patients, or through contact with the blood, secretions, organs or semen from the corpses of Ebola victims, the CDC said.

According to the agency, the Ebola virus becomes communicable with the onset of symptoms but not during the two to 21-day incubation period.

Early symptoms of Ebola include a sudden high fever, severe fatigue, muscle pain, headache and throat pain. The patient later develops symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, skin rash and hemorrhage, the CDC said.

Severe infections can cause multiple organ failure and damage to the central nervous system, while the fatality rate can be as high as 90 percent, the CDC said.

(By Chen Wei-ting and Elizabeth Hsu)
Enditem/pc



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