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Last Updated

15 Nov 2002

Source: Associated Press, June 25, 2002.

WHO: Ebola Outbreak Spreads to Gabon

GENEVA (AP) - Experts investigating a possible outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Republic of Congo have found four suspected cases in neighboring Gabon, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

Two people died and two were sick with Ebola-like symptoms in the village of Ekata in the remote north of the central African nation, in the Ogooue-Ivindo province, said spokeswoman Fadela Chaib.

Six similar cases, including five deaths, already have been reported in northern Republic of Congo.

Chaib said experts from WHO and the two governments involved had failed to persuade people in the infected communities to give blood samples to confirm that the disease is Ebola.

"The local community is afraid of this disease and isn't cooperating with the experts," she said. "But the WHO expert is pretty sure that it is Ebola."

One of the people who died in Gabon had recently been in Republic of Congo, Chaib added.

Ebola is one of the world's deadliest viral diseases, causing death through massive blood loss in up to 90 percent of those infected.

It spreads through bodily fluids and attacks internal organs, causing bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Within two weeks, the victim usually dies from massive blood loss.

The last Ebola outbreak in the region lasted from October to February, killing 43 people in Republic of Congo and 53 in Gabon, according to WHO.

WHO says that outbreak, was sparked after contact with an infected gorilla. Primates can also contract the virus and die of it.

WHO says over 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.