Security Message for U.S. Citizens: Press Reports of Medical Outbreak in Equateur Province

The DRC Minister of Health (MOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have reported two confirmed cases of Ebola in the Equateur province in the remote region of Djera. Djera is approximately 476 miles northeast of Kinshasa and is not easily accessible, requiring multiple river crossings by ferry and difficult overland travel.  The current Equateur outbreak does not appear to be connected to the Ebola epidemic in Western Africa, and there are not any suspected or confirmed cases of Ebola in or near Kinshasa or other major cities.

At present, 13 deaths in Equateur displayed symptoms consistent with Ebola, including five healthcare workers. There are 11 additional suspect cases, and approximately 80 more potential contacts have been traced, all of whom are receiving health care or are under medical surveillance. The initially reported outbreak numbers were inadvertently elevated due to concurrent outbreaks of malaria and a diarrheal illness in the area. The outbreak probably started through exposure to infected bush meat.

The DRC government has managed multiple Ebola epidemics since 1976 and has a well-developed plan for handling Ebola outbreaks. Under the guidance of the Ministry of Health, a multi-prong approach has been initiated to contain the current outbreak, which includes the formation of commissions to address the following: epidemiology / surveillance / contact tracing; sanitization and proper burial techniques; and communication for disseminating health information. Additionally, health care workers are receiving additional personal protective equipment (PPE) in the field, there are new check points along the river to detect potentially infected persons travelling, an expert working group on Ebola is being formed to include those with experience managing past Ebola outbreaks in the DRC, all towns in Equateur province are under surveillance, 25 laser thermometers are being distributed to all ports and airports in the area, and there is a prohibition on hunting in the vicinity. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and WHO are also in the area providing support to those affected in the current outbreak.

Since the government has established a quarantine for Djera, the Embassy requests that U.S. citizens respect this measure and refrain from travel to the area.

To obtain Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) travel notices, call the CDC at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636) from within the United States, or 1-404-639-3534 from overseas, or visit the CDC website.

We strongly recommend that U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at www.Travel.State.Gov. STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the U.S. embassy or nearest U.S. consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

Regularly monitor the State Department’s website, where you can find current Travel Warnings, Travel Alerts, and the Worldwide Caution.  Read the Country Specific Information for (the DRC). For additional information, refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad” on the State Department’s website.

Contact the U.S. embassy or consulate for up-to-date information on travel restrictions. You can also call 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or 1-202-501-4444 from other countries. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook to have travel information at your fingertips.

The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa is located at 310 Avenue des Aviateurs, tel. +243-081-225-5872 (Do not dial the zero when calling from abroad). The Consular Section of the Embassy may be reached at tel. +243-081-884-6859 or +243-081-884-4609 and is open Monday-Thursday, 7:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m. and Fridays from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

For after-hours emergencies, U.S. citizens should call 081-556-0151 and ask to speak with the duty officer.