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DC09

Ebola-Like Virus Confirmed in Western Equatoria

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DC09

Nairobi

Ten cases of a haemorrhagic fever, similar to Ebola, were confirmed on Thursday in Western Equatoria, southern Sudan, the World Health Organisation (WHO) reported.

Health authorities in Yambio county had reported 15 cases of the fever, including four deaths, WHO reported. Laboratory testing performed by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and by the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) USA had confirmed "an Ebola-like infection" in 10 of the 15 cases.

Dr Abdullahi Ahmed, head of office in WHO southern Sudan, told IRIN the viral fever appeared to belong to the "Ebola family", in which there were a number of different strains, and that tests would reveal its precise nature within 48 hours.

No new cases have been reported for the last three days, while the most recent case had begun on 15 May, said a WHO press release. Two patients were being cared for in the isolation ward of Yambio hospital, while 102 contacts were being followed up by surveillance teams in a crisis committee that has been established in Yambio.

"Close contacts of people who have been ill with the disease are followed for a period of 21 days from the date of last contact. Contacts who develop symptoms during this period can then rapidly be transferred to hospital, where they can be cared for safely, to prevent further transmission to others," WHO reported.

Abdullahi said that while there was no treatment for the highly contagious disease, by isolating patients and following up on people who had contact with patients, it could be contained. The disease, which causes bloody vomiting and diarrhoea, is passed on through body fluids.

Through support and care, said Abdullahi, about 50 percent of sufferers had survived similar viral diseases in southern Sudan in the past.

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