Ebola outbreak in Congo

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Reuters reports that nine people have died from Ebola in the Republic of Congo this month. The outbreak is in the Cuvette-Ouest region near the Gabon border, where a previous outbreak occurred in 2003.

The government of Congo and the United Nations World Health Organization have announced a quarantine of the Etoumbi and Mbomo districts. They are monitoring 84 suspected cases in the two regions. Jean-Vivien Mombouli, adviser to the Congolese Ministry of Health, pointed out the individuals may not actually have the virus; only one confirmed case of Ebola has been diagnosed thus far.

"We will wait for 21 days just to be sure then after that, if the person does not get sick, he is out of danger," Mr. Mombouli said of the patients. Ebola has a five to ten day incubation period.

Neighbouring Uganda has stepped up its surveillance in response to the outbreak.

No cure exists for Ebola, and between 50-90% of those who contract it die. Zaire/Congo has sustained the largest number, and most severe, outbreaks of the Ebola virus. Although no cure exists, work continues on a vaccine and it is in the human trial stages, as well as research into pharmaceutical treatments.

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