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19 cases of Ebola confirmed in Sudan

Nineteen cases of the deadly Ebola virus have been confirmed in southern Sudan and five of the victims have already died from the infection, the World Health Organization (WHO) said.
/ Source: Reuters

Nineteen cases of the deadly Ebola virus have been confirmed in southern Sudan and five of the victims have already died from the infection, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday.

The WHO office for southern Sudan said health authorities in Yambio county in Western Equatoria province had reported patients suffering the symptoms associated with Ebola, which can kill up to 90 percent of its victims.

“I can confirm that there are 19 reported cases of Ebola hemorrhage fever in Yambio county as of this morning,” Abdullahi Ahmed, head of the WHO southern Sudan office, told Reuters. “It could be more than this,” he said. “We just don’t know at this point.”

The WHO said four patients were in isolation and health workers were monitoring 120 people believed to have had close contact with the victims.

The WHO has enlisted the help of other international health organizations, local churches and agencies to help support patients, create public awareness and control the outbreak.

“We have health surveillance teams on the ground and we are watching the situation very carefully,” said Ahmed. “I think the virus is contained for the moment and we have no reason to believe that it has spread outside Yambio county,” he added.

Ahmed said it was not known where the virus had originated and how it had come into Sudan.

WHO spokesman Dick Thompson, speaking in Geneva, said “The epidemiological investigation is ongoing, we don’t know the source of it yet or the complete extent.”

He said the medical aid group Doctors Without Borders was building an isolation ward to quarantine patients.

Ebola, first identified in Sudan in 1976, starts with a high fever and headache and can lead to massive internal bleeding. It is passed on by infected body fluids and is one of the deadliest and most feared diseases in the world.

Two separate outbreaks in Congo Republic killed about 150 people last year.