Congo

Ebola death toll at 75 in Congo but under control

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GENEVA (Reuters) - The toll from the ebola outbreak in Congo has risen to 75 deaths among 93 cases, but is believed to be under control, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Tuesday.
The figures, which exceed the number of victims in Congo and Gabon a year ago, came from an investigating team of WHO and government experts deployed in the remote northwest area.

The outbreak in the Kelle and Mbomo districts near the central African country's border with Gabon is thought by scientists to have been caused by the consumption of infected monkey meat. The WHO last Wednesday put the death toll at 64.

"It would be unrealistic to say that we've seen all the cases, but it is realistic to say that we have seen most," WHO spokesman Ian Simpson told Reuters. "Control measures have now been put in place."

"An isolation ward has been set up in Kelle hospital where people are coming to be treated. That is real progress," he added. "Up to now it was a question of trying to persuade people that they needed medical intervention."

Local officials said last week that many villagers believed occult forces were at work, leading some to stone and beat to death four teachers accused of casting an evil spell to cause the outbreak.

Ebola, which is passed on by infected body fluids, kills between 50 and 90 percent of its victims through massive internal bleeding, depending on the strain of the disease.

Ebola killed at least 73 people in Congo and Gabon in an epidemic from October 2001 to February 2002.

"There are very few sick people left. Unfortunately most have died. It is important to make sure there is no further spread," Simpson said.

The isolation ward will help protect the victims' families and health workers, according to the WHO spokesman.

At least two nurses were believed to have been among the dead, he noted.

Reuters - Thomson Reuters Foundation
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