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Uganda issues Ebola alert

KAMPALA, Uganda -- Uganda has issued an Ebola virus alert after the deaths of 28 people from haemorrhaging near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Sam Okware, Uganda's Ebola task force chairman, told Reuters on Monday: "We have been hearing of rumours of an outbreak of haemorrhagic fever in Congo and Gabon so we have put the districts on alert just in case it is Ebola."

Doctors fear an outbreak of fever in the Congolese village of Misangandu, roughly 1,000 km (620 miles) southwest of Uganda, could be the dreaded Ebola virus.

The World Health Organisation said at least 10 other people, including a nurse, had died of a mystery illness in the west African country of Gabon and attributed one of the deaths to the deadly virus.

The WHO said in a weekly bulletin in Geneva on Friday that it had received reports of cases of suspected viral haemorrhagic fever -- which includes Ebola -- in Ogooue Iveindo province in the northeastern part of Gabon.

There is no known cure or vaccine for Ebola, which causes up to 90 percent of victims to bleed to death in a matter of days.

WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told the Associated Press that the dead were 10 members of an extended family and a health worker.

A group of experts have travelled to Gabon and a second team of WHO specialists was being assembled to fly there on Monday.

The team will help Gabon officials contain the disease, partly by teaching local medical staff to use "barriers" such as gloves and masks to prevent contact with the bodily fluids of patients, Hartl said.

The virus is named after the Ebola River where it was first identified in 1976 in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The biggest recent outbreak of Ebola killed more than 170 people in Uganda last year.

Ebola, which is passed on through contact with body fluids of infected persons and begins with aches and fever similar to flu symptoms, killed at least 245 people in the Congolese town of Kikwit in 1995.


• Ebola
• World Health Organisation

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