Ebola Crosses From
Gabon To Congo
By James Astill in Nairobi
The Guardian - London

An outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus has spread from Gabon to the neighbouring Republic of Congo, raising fears of a regional epidemic.
Despite efforts to close the countries' remote rainforest border, 11 cases have been confirmed in Congo, following 16 in neighbouring parts of Gabon, the World Health Organisation said yesterday. Of the 27 people with the disease, 15 have died so far.
A team of 10 doctors from MÈdecins Sans FrontiËres (MSF) arrived in the infected area by dug-out canoe and on foot earlier this week.
The outbreak is under control, MSF said yesterday. But a further wave of infections is expected within the next seven to 10 days - the average incubation period for Ebola.
"It seems to be in hand, though we'll know more when the next wave comes in a week or so," Malini Morzaria, an MSF spokeswoman said.
She added: "We've had a lot of difficulty getting the right medical supplies because so many governments have been ordering it in a panic over anthrax. We'll find out if we have enough for the next wave within a week or so."
Ebola is thought to have crossed into Congo when a woman fled her infected village in the Ogooue-Ivindo region of Gabon last week, after her baby died of the virus. She was returned to Gabon, where she also died.
The only way to curb Ebola is to isolate its victims. It spreads through the slightest contact with infected bodily fluids, but because the disease usually kills victims very quickly, outbreaks rapidly burn themselves out when contained.
MSF is tracing 226 people exposed to the virus in Gabon and Congo over the past few days. Meanwhile, authorities in Congo are attempting to cordon off 125 square miles of rainforest. Gabon has closed off four border villages.
Scientists know relatively little about Ebola, which typically causes fever, vomiting, heavy bleeding, and then death from shock.
The first death in the current outbreak occurred two weeks ago in the Gabonese village of Ekata, five miles from the Congolese border. Nine of the victim's relatives then died in rapid succession, along with a nurse who had treated them.
This is Gabon's fourth recorded outbreak of Ebola since 1994. A 1996 outbreak killed 45 of 60 people infected.


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