Serious Ebola Outbreak in DR Congo

Posted on September 12, 2007

A serious outbreak of the deadly ebola virus in underway in the DR Congo. The BBC reports that the outbreak has killed 166 people and there are said to be at least 372 other cases. There is no cure for ebola.

At least 166 people have died and WHO says it is aware of 372 other cases.

Specialist laboratories in Gabon and Atlanta in the US confirmed Ebola from blood samples, saying they also showed the presence of Shigella dysentery.

Ebola is highly contagious. People contracting the disease suffer severe stomach pain and internal bleeding.

The fatality rate for Ebola, which has no known cure, is as high as 90%.

WHO and Medecins sans Frontieres have despatched medical personnel to help the Congolese contain the outbreak.

Several villages have been quarantined according to the news report. The horrors of ebola were made better known to most people through Richard Preston's book, The Hot Zone. Fruit bats have been speculated to be hosts of the ebola virus. Outbreaks often occur when locals eat bush meat. The ebola virus has a very high death rate but it also tends to burn itself out quickly -- especially when help from experts at the WHO and CDC arrive on the scene and quarantine the area.

WHO's fact page on Ebola can be found here. They also have a table of ebola outbreaks. The largest outbreak death-wise listed on the table was an outbreak in Zaire in 1976 that killed 280 people.

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