Nine Cases of Ebola Confirmed in DR Congo Region

by Venkatraman on Sep 22 2007 5:54 PM

Nine cases of Ebola virus have been confirmed in the West Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo that is at the epicentre of an outbreak that has killed at least 174 people, a World Health Organisation (WHO) official said Friday.

"We have now nine cases of Ebola haemorrhagic fever confirmed in the laboratory, five cases of typhoid and one case of Shigella," WHO spokeswoman in DR Congo Cristiana Silvi told AFP.

Symptoms of the epidemic -- high temperature, bloody diarrhoea, visible hemorrhaging -- were first seen on April 27 in the Kampungu region of West Kasai.

The Belgian chapter of the Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it had five people with Ebola in its clinic in Kampungu.

"Three patients, including two very severe cases, are in total isolation, and two are convalescing," MSF Belgium emergency coordinator Rosa Crestani told AFP by telephone from Kampungu.

During the past two days in the area two members of the same family succumbed to the disease, she added.

These bring to 174 the number of confirmed dead out of nearly 400 reported cases of patients suffering symptoms from various illnesses including Ebola, Shigella, which is similar, acute malaria or gastro-enteritis.

There is no known cure for Ebola, which causes massive internal bleeding, and on average is fatal in around 80 percent of cases. Shigella, a type of infectious dysentery, is treatable with antibiotics, but is still fatal in around 40 percent of cases.

Experts from the US Center for Disease Control and Canada's Public Health Agency are expected to get laboratories set up in the region by Monday, said the WHO's Silvi.

"The equipment is still enroute. Once it arrives, probably on Sunday or Monday, it will only take a few hours to set up the labs. Then a precise diagnosis can be obtained in two to six hours," she added.