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Last Updated

09 Apr 2003

Source: Reuters AlertNet , April 9, 2003

Death toll from Congo's Ebola outbreak reaches 120

BRAZZAVILLE, April 9 (Reuters) - The death toll in a deadly Ebola outbreak has risen to 120 in northwestern Congo Republic, the central African country's health ministry said on Wednesday.

An official at the ministry said 135 cases had been recorded since the virus, which has no known cure, struck in January in the dense forests of Cuvette-Ouest, some 700 km (440 miles) north of the capital, Brazzaville.

Authorities say the disease has now almost been brought under control.

Ebola is passed on by infected body fluids and kills between 50 and 90 percent of victims, depending on the strain. It starts with a high fever and headache and can lead to massive internal bleeding.

Authorities have cordoned off the affected areas and local people have been told not to touch bodies of those who have died and not to eat primates.

Scientists believe the outbreak was triggered by the consumption of infected monkey meat. Bush meat is a staple among forest communities, and a delicacy in many cities.

The epidemic has also wiped out nearly two-thirds of the gorillas in the Lossi reserve in Cuvette-Ouest.

Ebola killed 73 people in Gabon and in the Congo in an epidemic from October 2001 to February 2002.

Ebola takes its name from a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo where it was discovered in 1976. The worst outbreak was in that country in 1995 when more than 250 people died.