Ebola outbreak in Congo

 
Published: Monday 15 October 2007

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been put on 'high alert' after the WHO confirmed the outbreak of the deadly haemorrhagic viral ebola fever in the country's southern province of Kasai Occidental. This is the second outbreak to hit the country in 12 years.

Samples from five people have tested positive for the ebola virus in the region, where authorities reported 169 deaths among 378 sick people by September 14. Authorities suspect the deaths could have also been caused by the shigella strand of infectious dysentery. Following WHO's confirmation, Mweka and Luebo districts, the worst affected areas, have been quarantined.

The deputy health minister, Ferdinard Ntua Osiamba, says the government has launched a massive campaign to contain the disease. It has also sought international help to contain the outbreak.

Ebola is an incurable disease characterised by massive internal bleeding. Death rates could range from 50 to 90 per cent. The first outbreak struck Kikwit in 1995, killing 245 people.

Following the outbreak in Congo, Uganda's health ministry has sent a red alert to all border posts, so that the virus does not get carried into the country.

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