Suspected Ebola virus kills 17 in DRC

By Time of article published Dec 6, 2001

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Kinshasa - Medical experts from the World Health Organisation flew to central Congo on Thursday to investigate the deaths of 17 people with Ebola-like symptoms, said state radio.

The deaths occurred over several weeks starting on November 17 in Dekese, a small village about 700km east of the capital, Kinshasa, said United Nations officials.

At least 30 people - including the 17 dead - exhibited symptoms similar to Ebola, said Auguy Ebeja, a doctor with the French aid agency, Medecins Sans Frontieres, or Doctors Without Borders.

"It is a hemorrhagic fever, but we still have to check whether this is Ebola or not," said Ebeja. "We are getting prepared to deal with an emergency situation."

Teams from MSF and the health ministry accompanied the World Health Organisation to the affected area in Western Kasaai province, radio reported.

Hemorrhagic fevers, which include the Marburg and Ebola viruses, cause high fevers and internal bleeding. In the final stages, the bleeding becomes uncontrollable.

Congo's last major Ebola outbreak struck in Kikwit in 1995, killing 245 people. Kikwit is 350km south of Dekese.

An Ebola outbreak in Uganda killed 173 people last year.

The disease was named after a river in Congo, where it was first identified in a number of villages in 1976. - Sapa-AP

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