about Epidemiology & the department

Epidemiology academic information

Epidemiology faculty

Epidemilogy resources

sites of interest to Epidemiology professionals

Last Updated

27 Feb 2003

Source: Associate Press, January 25, 2002.

Ebola Death Toll Rises in C. Africa

By SERGE MOUANGA MABIKA, Associated Press Writer

LIBREVILLE, Gabon -- Ebola has claimed five more victims in Gabon, news reports said Friday, bringing the death toll from the disease in two Central African countries to 34.

The new deaths were reported in the remote, northeastern town of Mekambo, Health Minister Faustin Boukoubi was quoted as saying in the state-run newspaper, L'Union.

A total of 26 people have been infected in Gabon, 23 of whom have died, according to World Health Organization figures. An additional 22 people are suspected of having the disease.

Neighboring Republic of Congo has confirmed 16 cases, including 11 deaths, WHO said Thursday.

The five new Gabonese fatalities were reported after an international medical team returned to Mekambo, ending an absence of two weeks prompted by threats from local inhabitants, who blame outsiders for many of their problems.

The team returned last week after talks with provincial and national officials, and with guarantees the local population would be informed about the team's role, Boukoubi said.

Villagers are angry because they can no longer sell their bush meat and crops -- their only source of income -- because of concern the food might be tainted. Those who have had contact with the victims also resent being confined to their villages for 21 days of medical observation to make sure they don't come down with the disease.

This is the fourth time this rare form of hemorrhagic fever has struck Gabon's Ogooue Ivindo province, a forested region inhabited by Pygmies and other hunter tribes. The latest outbreak began in October.

L'Union quoted Boukoubi as saying rumors about Ebola cases in the capital, Libreville, were a "false alarm."

Ebola is one of the most deadly viral diseases and kills between 50 and 90 percent of those who contract it. It spreads through bodily fluids -- though not the air -- and attacks internal organs, causing bloody diarrhea, vomiting and severe bleeding.

WHO says more than 1,000 people have died of the disease since the virus was first identified in 1976 in western Sudan and in a nearby region of Congo. The disease last struck in Uganda, killing 224 people last year.