- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2003


BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo — At least 18 persons have died of the Ebola virus in the latest outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever in the northwest of this country, according to an official toll issued Tuesday.

The Health Ministry said 15 deaths were recorded in Mbomo and three in the small village of Mbanza, where the outbreak began late last month.

The ministry said in a statement that so far, 35 cases have been identified as Ebola, which is characterized by high fever, diarrhea and bleeding from the nose and gums, and can induce massive internal hemorrhages.

Most of the patients are receiving treatment at home by Health Ministry teams sent to the Cuvette West region, near the border with Gabon and more than 500 miles from Brazzaville, the capital.

In all, 164 persons have been identified as having had contact with the victims.

Surgeon General Damaze Bozongo warned last week that more people are likely to die in the outbreak because local people are not cooperating with health workers.

Dr. Bozongo noted that many local people believe the highly contagious disease is caused by witchcraft.

Health workers seeking to contain the outbreak are urging people to skip traditional funeral rites, which include washing and kissing the bodies of the dead.

Ebola is thought to be contracted from infected animals in the central African rain forest.

The latest outbreak began Oct. 31 in Mbomo, after a family there ate a wild boar they had found dead in the bush.

In 2002, the Cuvette West region was quarantined because of an Ebola outbreak that claimed more than 100 lives.

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