Congo

Congo: Ebola toll reaches 110 cases, 89 deaths in Cuvette-Ouest Region

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NAIROBI, 6 March (IRIN) - As at Wednesday, 110 cases of the deadly Ebola virus had been confirmed in the Cuvette-Ouest Region of the Republic of Congo (ROC), resulting in 89 deaths so far, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported.
Seventy-nine of the deaths occurred in the district of Kelle, while another 10 occurred in Mbomo District.

WHO further reported that another 86 individuals who had been in contact with people suffering from the highly contagious haemorrhagic fever were being monitored.

Meanwhile, scientists meeting in the capital, Brazzaville, at a conference to discuss the current outbreak and means of fighting the disease in the future, said they had not yet identified the reservoir of the Ebola virus - a critical element needed in planning more effective strategies to combat the disease.

"That's the fundamental question. We must come up with answers to this question, because the entire world is awaiting our findings," Christophe Boesch, an independent researcher, was quoted by AFP as saying on Wednesday.

The meeting, which began on Tuesday and was due to end on Thursday, was being attended by some 70 medical researchers, anthropologists, virologists, doctors, veterinarians, and representatives from tropical disease research centres in Europe, the US, and from the UN, according to AFP.

Ebola is characterised by fever, diarrhoea, severe blood loss, and intense fatigue, and transmitted through direct contact with body fluids of infected persons or of other primates. There is no cure, and between 50 percent and 90 percent of victims die. The best way of halting its spread is through prevention and prompt detection and isolation of suspected cases.

Authorities were first alerted to a possible Ebola outbreak in late 2002 when a band of gorillas in the region began dying. Tests carried out on the bodies confirmed that they had died of Ebola. The current outbreak is believed to have been caused by villagers eating primates infected by Ebola.

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