Published Date: 2007-11-21 23:50:00
Subject: PRO/AH/EDR> Ebola hemorrhagic fever - Congo DR (13)
Archive Number: 20071121.3758
EBOLA HEMORRHAGIC FEVER - CONGO DR (13)
A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
Date: Mon 19 Nov 2007
Source: Reuters Foundation AlertNet [edited]
Health officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Monday [19 Nov
2007] declared the end of an outbreak of deadly Ebola haemorrhagic fever,
believed to have killed up to 187 people over 8 months. Congo's Health
Ministry and the World Health Organization (WHO) said that a 42 day period
following the death of the last Ebola victim had ended on 13 Nov 2007.
Despite not recording a new Ebola infection in over a month and a half,
officials said it was standard practice to wait 42 days -- twice Ebola's
maximum incubation period -- before announcing the end of an outbreak. "In
view of the positive results attained, it is my duty to announce today [19
Nov 2007] ... the end of the Ebola epidemic," Health Minister Victor
Makwenge Kaput told journalists in the capital, Kinshasa.
People began falling ill in April  in the village of Kampungu in
Western Kasai province with Ebola-like symptoms, including fever and muscle
pain, followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, and internal haemorrhaging. The
presence of the disease was not confirmed until September . Experts
from WHO and the medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) rushed to
bring in tonnes of medical equipment and sanitation products, and 2 mobile
laboratories to help deal with the crisis. The remoteness of the affected
areas and Congo's lack of infrastructure, much of it damaged by years of
neglect and a 1998-2003 war, magnified the problems of tackling the
outbreak in the former Belgian colony.
It remains unclear how many of a total of 264 suspected cases were due to
Ebola, which has no cure and kills 50 to 90 per cent of its victims.
Outbreaks of typhoid fever and _Shigella_, a bacterial infection, both of
which have symptoms similar to Ebola, occurred simultaneously in the
affected areas. Of 110 samples taken from suspected Ebola victims, 26
tested positive for the disease.
The health officials said on Monday [19 Nov 2007] that epidemiologists were
trying to determine the origin of the outbreak, which they suspect may have
been transmitted by migrating bats, which were hunted and eaten by local
villagers. Ebola is transmitted by contact with the blood, secretions,
organs, or other bodily fluids of infected people. Western Kasai is east of
Kikwit, the site of an Ebola outbreak in 1995 in the former Zaire, which
killed 250 out of 315 people infected.
[byline: Joe Bavier, Daniel Flynn)
ProMED-mail rapporteur Mary Marshall
Date: Tue 20 Nov 2007
Source: IRIN (UN Integrated Regional Information Networks) [edited]
Health officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said an outbreak
of Ebola haemorrhagic fever, which claimed the lives of 21 of the 26 people
infected in the Kasai Occidental province, is now over. "We can say today
that the Ebola epidemic has been completely brought under control," Health
Minister Makwenge Kaput told reporters on 19 Nov 2007. He said authorities
had waited 42 days since the last Ebola-related death in Kampungu village
before making the announcement double the time of the 21 day incubation
period of the virus.
Some 264 people had fallen ill in Kampungu since April , including
187 fatalities, but experts confirmed only 26 cases of Ebola, according to
Eugene Kabambi, communications officer for the UN World Health Organization
in DRC. Vital Mondonge, the officer in charge of disease control and
prevention at the health ministry, said the Ebola epidemic had coincided
with outbreaks of typhoid, shigellosis (a bacterial infection), and
malaria, which share some symptoms with the deadly virus.
Ebola is characterised by fever, diarrhoea, severe blood loss, and intense
fatigue. It is transmitted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of
infected people or of other primates. There is no cure, and health experts
say between 50 and 90 per cent of victims die. The best way of halting its
spread is through prevention, prompt detection, and the isolation of
suspected cases. The DRC has experienced Ebola epidemics in 1976 in
Yambuku, Orientale province, in Kikwit, Bandundu, in 1995, where at least
250 deaths were reported, and in Watsa, Orientale, in 1999.
[Welcome news, but unfortunately the true extent and origin of the Ebola
disease outbreak remains unclear, and strategies to avoid future
recurrences cannot yet be determined.
A map of the Democratic Republic of the Congo showing the boundaries of the
Kasai Occidental province can be accessed at
<http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/africa/congo_demrep_pol98.jpg>. - Mod.CP]