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Plague in Democratic Republic of the Congo (Ituri province)

15 Jul 2021

The World Health Organization reports an ongoing outbreak of plague in north east Democratic Republic of the Congo. From 22 April to 13 June 2021, 37 suspected pneumonic plague cases including 12 deaths were recorded in Fataki health zone, Ituri province. Plague is known to exist in Ituri province, but has not been seen in Fataki health zone for more than ten years. Plague continues to be recorded in other parts of Ituri province this year. 

Plague is a severe bacterial infection which spreads to humans mainly by the bite of infected fleas, or from close contact with infected animals or people.

Advice to Travellers

Plague is rare in travellers. The risk is highest if you participate in activities which may bring you into close contact with local wildlife, particularly rats or other rodents. Activities which may increase this risk include:

  • camping, or staying in very basic rural accommodation
  • walking, hiking or working outdoors
  • hunting or participating in activities which involve close contact with wildlife
  • caring for a sick person who may be infected with pneumonic plague: this spreads from person to person through inhaling droplets caused by them coughing or sneezing, or by touching their infected body fluids

No vaccine is available for plague. To reduce your risk of exposure, you should:

  • practice good insect bite avoidance measures: insect repellents should protect you against flea bites
  • avoid any close contact with sick or dead animals
  • avoid crowded areas in regions where plague has recently been reported
  • seek prompt medical attention if you develop a high temperature (fever) or other 'flu-like' symptoms and there is a risk you may have been exposed to plague