[Update] Monitoring the Ebola Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Columbia Health
July 19, 2019

Columbia University is closely monitoring the recent outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease in the North Kivu and Ituri Provinces in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Ministry of Health, World Health Organization (WHO), and partners are responding to this event. Highest risk of spread is to Angola, Burundi, Central African Republic, Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia; heightened surveillance has been implemented in Burundi, Rwanda, South Sudan, and Uganda.

On July 17, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Ebola virus outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), with the goal of receiving more sustainable and adequate technical assistance, and human and financial resources for outbreak response from the global community.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO have still not issued any travel warnings or restrictions to these regions. Columbia's International SOS service has issued travel advisories for any members of the community planning to visit these areas, advising travelers to defer non-essential travel to the affected areas until outbreak control measures have been definitively established. They also advise:

  • Continue to monitor the situation.
  • Pay strict attention to hygiene.
  • Do not participate in high risk activities such as funerals in outbreak areas. (Do not touch / wash dead bodies.)
  • Avoid hospitals that are treating suspected Ebola cases.
  • Avoid direct contact with sick people and their bodily fluids. This includes items that may have been contaminated with fluids like bedding and clothing.
  • Avoid direct contact with animals, including bats. Both dead and live animals pose a risk.
  • Do not eat bats or "bush meat" from gorillas, monkeys and other primates.
  • If you should require medical attention, call International SOS to be directed to a suitable facility.
  • Do not travel if you are sick. Some locations may implement screening, and travelers may face quarantine and testing.

Should you have any questions or concerns about your travel and the risks associated, please reach out to your campus health service: Morningside (212-854-7426) or CUIMC (212-305-3400).

Given the fluidity of the situation, please ensure that your most up to date travel itinerary (including accommodation information) is entered into TravelTracker. Doing so will better allow the University to communicate with, and assist you, in the event the outbreak spreads.