Fever Grips Congo, Killing More Than 100|
Posted: 8/29/2007 8:31 PM
KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — More than 100 people have
died in a remote part of Congo, including all those who attended the
funerals of two village chiefs, in what health officials fear is an
outbreak of hemorrhagic fever.
People began dying of the suspected fever after the
high-profile funerals in Mweka, a region of southeastern Congo where
relatives usually wash the bodies of the deceased by hand, said
Jean-Constatin Kanow, the chief medical inspector for the province.
In the past, Congo has seen large outbreaks of
Marburg and Ebola, both hemorrhagic fevers caused by viruses that, in
severe cases, attack the central nervous system and cause bleeding from
the eyes, ears and other parts of the body.
"Everyone that attended those funerals is now dead,"
said Kanow. "We began by suspecting typhoid fever, but now we believe its
In all, four villages are affected and 217 people
have come down with the illness, including 103 who died. Of the dead, 100
were adults and three were children, said Kanow.
Two medical teams from the province's administrative
seat have been sent to Mweka, an area with a population of 140,000. A
third team, from the National Institute of Biomedical Research, was
expected to arrive Wednesday from Kinshasa, the capital, 430 miles
northwest of Mweka.
The researchers were planning to take blood samples
to be analyzed at laboratories specializing in hemorrhagic fever.
Congo's last major Ebola outbreak struck in Kikwit in
1995, killing 245 people. Kikwit is about 185 miles from the site of the
current purported outbreak.
Original article: USA Today
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