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Outbreak of Ebola-like virus strikes Angola

The outbreak of Marburg fever in Angola has claimed 132 lives, the highest number of fatalities ever recorded from the rare deadly disease related to Ebola, the World Health Organization said.
/ Source: Reuters

The outbreak of Marburg fever in Angola has claimed 132 lives, the highest number of fatalities ever recorded from the rare deadly disease related to Ebola, the World Health Organization said on Friday.

In a statement, the United Nations agency also said it was sending more experts to Angola at the weekend, including a medical anthropologist to teach about preventing the spread of the virus during traditional burial practices.

The WHO has deployed 20 experts to help combat the viral hemorrhagic fever, characterized by headaches, nausea, vomiting and bloody diarrhea. It is spread through close contact with bodily fluids including saliva and perspiration.

Since October there have been 140 cases of Marburg, causing 132 deaths, mainly in Angola’s northern Uige province. A 15-year-old boy who died on March 20 is the only known victim in the capital Luanda, WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib told a briefing.

'Largest number of fatalities ever'
“This is the largest number of fatalities ever recorded during an outbreak of this rare but extremely severe disease,” the WHO said.

The previous record was 123 deaths among 149 cases during an epidemic from late 1998-2000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Most victims were gold miners.

The WHO said in a statement issued late on Friday that it was working with the Democratic Republic of Congo’s health ministry to train staff in the border area near Angola about detecting cases and how to manage them.

The Geneva-based WHO is also sending a further 1,100 pounds of protective equipment to protect hospital workers and other front-line staff in Angola.

“Marburg can be controlled if people are put in isolation and their contacts are traced,” Chaib said.

Health officials were also tracing travelers rumored to have been exposed to the disease in Angola, including nine people now isolated in hospital in Italy, according to the WHO spokeswoman.

Tests on two travelers who went from Angola to Portugal showed they did not have the disease, she added.