Ebola virus outbreak in Africa
jownbey at cbrc.mgh.harvard.edu
Wed May 10 11:12:24 EST 1995
I found this at: http://taiga.geog.niu.edu/news.html
Hope its okay to reprint it....If not sorry.
WHO says world safe from Zaire deadly fever-virus
(c) Copyright the News & Observer Publishing Co.
GENEVA (9:36 a.m.) - The World Health Organization (WHO) said Wednesday
a deadly virus
could be the cause of fever outbreaks which have killed scores of people
in a remote region of Zaire
But WHO officials sought to play down fears that the fever -- compared
in reports with a panic
virus scenario in a current U.S. thriller film "Outbreak" -- might
spread outside the central African
In Kinshasa, the Zaire capital, the government set up a special medical
commission to handle the
situation. Government sources said at least 90 people had died so far
amid fears that it may be the
deadly Ebola virus, an incurable "doomsday" disease.
A WHO statement said an international team of its own experts with
others from the United States,
France and South Africa had been sent to Kikwit in Zaire's Bandundu
Province 250 miles west of
Since Jan. 1, there had been 189 cases and 59 deaths in an outbreak of
bloody diarrhoea and 33
cases of suspected haemorrhagic fever, the statement said. At least two
Italian nuns working as
nurses are known to be among the dead.
"The cause of the outbreaks has yet to be determined, but Ebola virus, a
highly fatal virus known
to have occurred in Zaire, is a possible cause of hemorrhagic fever,"
the statement from the office
of WHO specialists said.
Similar outbreaks caused by Ebola -- which primarily affects monkeys and
other animals but
occasionally jumps to humans -- occurred in Zaire in 1976 and Sudan in
1979, according to the
Geneva-based United Nations body.
More than 500 people were infected and mortality rates were around 80
per cent. But WHO
officials said although there was no known antidote both outbreaks were
relatively easily contained
by strict health measures.
"There is absolutely no reason to believe that this would not be the
same this time if Ebola is
identified," said one WHO official. "Everybody has been talking about
'Outbreak', but it's not like
that at all."
In the film, which stars Dustin Hoffman as a virus expert and Donald
Sutherland as a maniacal
U.S. general, hundreds of people in a small California town are infected
by a virus carried by a pet
monkey brought from Zaire.
But the "Outbreak" virus was spread through the air. The WHO officials
said Ebola infection is
only spread by very close contact and that nursing staff can be
protected by wearing masks and
other protective clothing when working with patients.
Other measures to to contain it included suspension of all vaccination
programs. In the earlier two
outbreaks, many people had been infected by syringes which had not been
properly sterilized after
Samples of blood from victims of the latest outbreaks have been sent to
the U.S. government's
Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Ga., which has
representatives in the WHO
team sent to Zaire.
The WHO statement said the team "will assist in confirming the
diagnosis, advise local health
officials on patent care, and assist in efforts to contain the
Infection with the Ebola virus, named after a river in northern Zaire,
produces fever, hemorrhage
and vomiting as internal body tissues and organs dissolve. Death
normally comes within six days.
More information about the Virology