Deaths Mount From Angola
Mystery Hemorrhagic Fever
From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Mail and Guardian (South Africa)
(SAP-AFP) - An outbreak of an unidentified haemorrhagic fever has claimed the lives of 93 people in northern Angola, Deputy Minister of Health Jose van Dunem said late on Mon 21 Mar 2005. Of the 101 cases reported in the Uige provincial hospital in northern Angola, 93 people have died and 2 have left the hospital without being properly discharged, said Van Dunem at a news conference. "We are engaged in an effort with the community to find the 2 patients who fled the hospital and to detect new cases," he said.
The results of blood samples sent to Senegal showed that the mysterious outbreak was not due to yellow fever, dengue fever, West Nile virus, Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever or Rift Valley fever, said Moises Francisco, a member of the Angolan technical team monitoring the outbreak in Uige. Angolan health officials have asked the Centers for Disease Control in the United States to conduct tests to determine whether the fever is caused by Ebola virus. "We have the results [from Senegal] and they are negative," said Van Dunem. "We are now awaiting the results of the Ebola tests that we have asked from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta."
Angolan health officials said that 8 cases of haemorrhagic fever were detected in municipalities near the city of Uige. The officials last week gave the death toll at 87 from November 2004 to mid-March 2005. Health officials last week said they did not believe that they were dealing with an outbreak of Ebola, fever which kills by inducing massive internal haemorrhages. Most of those affected by the disease are children aged under 5 years, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WHO has expressed concern over the fact that children are the main victims, saying that in general haemorrhagic fevers, such as the one caused by the Ebola virus, hit all age groups without distinction. "We're perplexed. We don't know if it's Ebola fever or something else," said Fadela Chaib in Geneva.
The Portuguese health authorities on Mon 21 Mar 2005 advised its citizens against travelling to northern Angola due to the outbreak.
ProMed Mail
Most of the common haemorrhagic fever-associated viruses appear to have been excluded as causative agents of this outbreak, other than Lassa fever virus. The results of laboratory tests for the filoviruses, Ebola virus and Marburg virus, are still pending, although the involvement of these viruses is now less likely due to the disproportionate involvement of children. Lassa fever virus is endemic in parts of West Africa to the north, but it has not been recorded in Angola. Although a recent outbreak of Lassa fever in Sierra Leone did affect children disproportionately, many of the cases were attributed to nosocomial transmission in a hospital.
- Mod.CP
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
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