Print version ISSN 0042-9686
Bull World Health Organ vol.81 n.3 Genebra Jan. 2003
Ebola virus confirmed as cause of outbreak
As of Tuesday 18 February 80 cases of haemorrhagic fever had been reported in the north-west of the Republic of the Congo, with 64 deaths. Laboratory tests have confirmed that the Ebola virus was the cause. A Ministry of Health and WHO assessment team travelled to the area from Brazzaville on 5 February.
Ebola haemorrhagic fever kills 5090% of those who become clinically ill with it. The virus is transmitted by contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected people. In past outbreaks, health workers have been infected by contact with the body fluids of the patients they were treating. Case management experts from the WHO Global Alert and Response Network will be assisting health care workers with learning and using barrier nursing practices. Masks, gloves, suits and visors are being transported to the affected area. Medical anthropologists are also going to the area, to advise on safe practices.
Tests on blood samples from cases in the district of Kellé, where most of the deaths occurred, were all positive for the Ebola virus. In December, tests on dead gorillas north of Mbomo, the second focus of the outbreak, were also positive for Ebola.