Gabon to Seal Off Province
Hit By Deadly Ebola

LIBREVILLE (Reuters) - Gabon is to seal off a remote province hit by the Ebola virus, which has killed 24 people in the central African country and in neighbouring Congo and may have infected many more.
The government said in a statement late on Saturday that it had decided to seal off the province of Ogooue-Ivindo in the northeast of Gabon to help contain the virus, which has no vaccine and no known cure.
At least 33 people have contracted the virus, and 24 of those have died, according to latest figures from the World Health Organisation, which sent experts to the stricken region to help local health workers deal with the outbreak.
``In line with the advice of national and international medical experts, the government has decided to reinforce the measures already taken,'' said the statement, adding that more resources would be made available to fight the disease.
Seventeen people have died in the forested region around Mekambo in northern Gabon. The other confirmed deaths have been in neighbouring villages in the Republic of Congo.
Gabonese authorities have had to postpone elections for a parliamentary seat in Ogooue-Ivindo province due to Ebola.
The disease is named after a river in the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire, where it was first discovered in 1976 and where a 1995 epidemic killed more than 250 people.
Early diagnosis is difficult because victims suffer symptoms similar to flu. In the later stages of infection, Ebola causes massive internal bleeding.
As well as by contact with infected body fluids, scientists believe the infection can be caught by eating meat from infected apes, which are regarded as a delicacy in Gabon and as a staple by many forest-dwellers despite a ban on hunting ''bushmeat.''

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