A mysterious disease which broke out in the south of Zambia, killing four people, is now suspected to be pneumonic plague, the health ministry said Friday.
Ministry of health spokesman Canicius Banda said preliminary findings indicate that the disease that has killed four people and affected over 60 patients could be pneumonic plague but the findings were not yet conclusive.
"Our preliminary findings point to pneumonia plague," Banda said.
Four people died and 64 others were put under quarantine last week following the outbreak of the disease in Namwala, a small town in a southern province of Zambia.
Banda said the movement of people in the area had been banned with immediate effect in order to contain the disease, which had symptoms of vomiting and backache.
Medical experts had also begun spraying all the houses in the area to get rid of fleas and rodents suspected to be spreading the disease.
The government has also urged people in Namwala to be calm after word went round that the disease could be the deadly Ebola virus, prompting panic.
"We have carried out the tests and it is not Ebola. People should not panic, the situation is under control," Health Minister Brian Chituwo said.
Pneumonic plague, which is fatal if left untreated, develops when plague bacteria infect the lungs, and can cause a public health emergency due to its high degree of contagion.