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Ebola cases appear in DR Congo; doctor given promising drug dies in Liberia

By Faith Karimi, CNN
updated 5:51 PM EDT, Mon August 25, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Liberian doctor who got the same treatment as two Americans dies
  • Two people in the Democratic Republic of Congo test positive for Ebola
  • Tests showed it's a different strain from the one in West Africa
  • U.N. agency says confirmation testing is underway

(CNN) -- A Liberian doctor who received the same Ebola experimental treatment as two Americans has died, officials said.

Dr. Abrahim Borbor died Sunday evening after contracting Ebola at a hospital in Monrovia, officials at a treatment facility in the Liberian capital said.

Borbor used ZMapp, the same drug given to two Americans who had Ebola.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is also reporting new Ebola cases in a northern town, sparking fears that the deadly virus is expanding far beyond West Africa.

Two people in Gera tested positive for Ebola, a government spokesman said Sunday.

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The country's health minister confirmed the cases in a televised statement.

"We're going to provide essential medication in all medical institutions in the area of Gera but also free health treatment for the duration of the epidemic," Felix Kabange Numbi said.

A lab and quarantine station have been set up in the town, which is about 750 miles from the capital of Kinshasa.

The central African nation said its test showed that the strain is different from the one that has killed nearly 1,500 people in the West African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.

"This epidemic doesn't have any link to that which is now happening in West Africa," Numbi said.

There are five identified strains of the Ebola virus; four are known to cause infections in humans: Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Zaire ebolavirus, Sudan ebolavirus, and Taï Forest ebolavirus.

The World Health Organization said the agency's lab is conducting its own confirmation testing that will also determine the strain of the virus found.

Experts have described the West African outbreak as the worst in the history of the virus. Ebola first appeared in 1976 in Sudan and Congo, and takes its name from a river in the latter nation.

A Doctors Without Borders worker prepares to enter a high-risk area of an Ebola treatment center in Liberia.
A Doctors Without Borders worker prepares to enter a high-risk area of an Ebola treatment center in Liberia.

Congo has had six previous outbreaks since the disease appeared on its shores, the World Health Organization said.

Africa has been limited to three strains: Bundibugyo, Sudan and Zaire.

Last week, 13 people died of a mysterious ailment in the Boende area in Congo, but the WHO said at the time that their deaths were a result of a "viral hemorrhagic fever of undetermined origin."

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Ebola is one of the world's most virulent diseases and is transmitted through direct contact with blood or other bodily fluids of infected people.

The outbreak has forced various nations to take drastic action, including Ivory Coast, which said it is closing borders it shares with Guinea and Liberia for an indefinite period.

Senegal also closed its borders over Ebola fears. The closure includes any aircraft and ships traveling to Senegal from Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia.

A major outbreak in Congo would be catastrophic; it shares borders with nine nations, including Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi.

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CNN's Nima Elbagir, Joyce Joseph, Nana Karikari-apau and Joshua Berlinger contributed to this report.

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