What do I need to know before I travel?
Public Health Scotland logo

Fit for Travel Logo

Information on how to stay safe and healthy abroad. About us.

Plague in Democratic Republic of the Congo (Ituri Province)

06 Sep 2022

The World Health Organization reports continued transmission of plague in Rethy Health Zone, Ituri Province, northeastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

From 1 January 2022 to 7 August 2022, there have been 559 cases of plague, including 9 deaths.

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

Advice to travellers

Plague is rare in travellers. The risk is highest if you visit countries it is common in and participate in activities which may bring you into close contact with local wildlife, particularly rats or other rodents or people infected with plague. 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 has plague in their lungs (pneumonic plague): this spreads between people through breathing in 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
    • making sure you know how to protect yourself if working in a healthcare setting
    • 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