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Ebola cases increase in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 5th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ebola, a rare hemorrhagic disease has gained a deadly foothold in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The caseload there has tripled as of last month, with 14 patients dying in two weeks time.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The World Health Organization says that doctors there were looking into 30 likely or suspected cases. This number also includes seven in which patients tested positive for the Ebola virus.

A report from the organization says that 169 people who had come into contact with the victims have also been placed under observation.

The beginning, or epicenter of the current epidemic which began last month was located at Isiro, in the country's northeast where 11 died of 18 registered cases.

While Ebola outbreaks have been reported from neighboring western Uganda, there are indications that the cases in that country are on the downswing and are unrelated to the cases being reported in DR Congo.

The terrifying disease is fatal in about 50 to 90 percent of cases. Victims typically bleed from body orifices before dying in the most severe instances. Ebola is named after a small river in DR Congo, which killed 37 people in western Uganda in 2007 and at least 170 in the north of the country in 2000.

The World Health Organization has called for aid of nearly $2 million to help Congo's weakened health sector cope with the disease.

Officials confirmed that the epidemic in DR Congo resulted when local people began eating infected meat in the forest.

There had been 29 confirmed or probable cases with 14 deaths and a mortality rate of around 48 percent, Anja de Weggheleire, medical coordinator in the area for the charity Doctors Without Borders says.

"A week ago we were a bit optimistic ... but a few days later we got some more cases ... We have quite a clear picture of what is happening, but I cannot say it is under control," she said.

The last confirmed case was over the weekend. The end of the epidemic remains a long way off, de Weggheleire said.

Ebola is transmitted to humans from monkeys and birds and causes massive bleeding in victims.

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