Possible Ebola outbreak kills 63 in Congo
May 3, 1999
KINSHASA, Congo (CNN) -- An outbreak of a disease similar to the Ebola virus has killed at least 63 people during the past few months in the Democratic Republic of Congo, health officials said Monday.
The affliction, which causes sudden high fevers and massive bleeding like Ebola, surfaced in January in the northeast part of the country near Watsa, a town close to the border of Sudan and Uganda.
All of the deaths are associated with the gold mining town of Durba, according to a World Health Organization representative in the capital Kinshasa. Reports of deaths elsewhere had not yet been verified, the official said.
A total of 350 people died around the town of Kikwit in the former Zaire in 1995 in the most serious known epidemic of Ebola, for which there is no known cure.
The disease kills most of its victims, and death usually happens within 48 hours.
The partly state-owned Office of Kilo-Moto (Okimo) mining company operates in Durba.
The WHO official, quoting information obtained from a radio conversation with a nurse in Durba, said that two of the dead were Okimo staff but most were independent miners.
Other dead linked to the Durba outbreak include two women, three infants and the doctor who treated the first victims. He died in April in Isiro, to the west of Watsa.
The cause of the fever outbreak was not immediately clear.
A team from the Doctors without Borders medical charity has arrived in the region. They had protective gear and would take samples for testing abroad, WHO officials said.
Scientists have linked Ebola outbreaks elsewhere to people who ate or handled monkeys that had died of the disease.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Republique Democratique du Congo
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