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Ebola deaths double in Democratic Republic of Congo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 14th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Suspected Ebola deaths in the Democratic Republic of Congo have doubled in just over a week, according to the World Health Organization. The organization says the figure has risen from 14 to 31 cases since early September, all of them confined to the Orientale Province in northeastern Congo.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic says the outbreaks have heretofore been contained to the Haut-Uélé territory, in the towns of Isiro and Viadana.

Jasarevic has described the outbreak as "very active." He added that most of the latest deaths involved people who were previously infected.

"We are seeing more cases," he said. "There are also some new cases. But most of these cases of these additional deaths are no new alert cases but are those that have been traced and that have happened before."

Five of the latest deaths have involved health workers.

The World Health Organization is working with Congolese health workers to find locate all current Ebola cases and trace people who may have had contact with the infected.

The coordinated effort to contain the outbreak involves educating people about how the highly-contagious virus is spread.

Ebola is spread through direct contact with the blood, saliva, sweat or other bodily fluids of sick individuals. The handling and transportation of the corpses of those who have died from the disease can also spread infection.

Humans can contract the virus if they eat infected forest animals, such as monkeys and antelope, which are often killed in the area for meat.

Jasarevic said the virus can incubate for up to 21 days. The death rate can be as high as 90 percent.

Symptoms of Ebola include a sudden onset of fever, extreme weakness and muscle aches. Vomiting and diarrhea may occur. In rare cases of so-called Ebola hemorrhagic fever, patients suffer from internal and external bleeding. There is no cure for Ebola, nor are there any specific treatments.

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