Ebola-like deaths rise in Angola

Another young woman died on Sunday of the Ebola-like Marburg virus in Angola, officials said, as the death toll in the deadly outbreak rose to almost equal the most serious outbreak ever recorded.

About 121 people died since the haemorrhagic virus first broke out in the northern town of Uige in October, while five more people including a Portuguese citizen have been hospitalised, bringing the toll of sick to 132.

Until now, the most serious recorded outbreak of the disease was in the Democratic Republic of Congo between 1998 and 2000 when 123 people died.

A South African travel clinic on Sunday warned travellers planning to go to Angola to stay away from the country “for at least a week,” quoting reports that residents of the capital Luanda, especially expatriates, were contemplating evacuating the

country.

The young woman died on Sunday at a hospital in Uige, some 300 kilometres (180 miles) north of Luanda, and three people with the disease including one child were admitted there, while in Luanda a 12-year-old girl and a Portuguese national were hospitalised.

“A 19-year-old woman is dead and three others are ill, including a child, who have been admitted to the Uige provincial hospital,” said health ministry spokesperson Carlos Alberto from the northern town.

Luanda provincial health director Vita Mvemba said in the capital: “One Portuguese citizen who has visited Uige was admitted on Sunday at the military hospital and one girl, about 12 years old, has been transferred from the Cacuaco Health Centre to the Americo Boa Vida hospital.”

Cacuaco is a suburb about six kilometres (four miles) north of Luanda on the road to Uige.

“The girl is from Luanda. She has been admitted with a fever for the last two days at the Cacuaco centre. Today, she started bleeding.
That’s why we urgently had to transfer her to the Americo Boa Vida hospital,” Mvemba said.

Alberto added: “Three Chinese experts in epidemiology have gone to join medical teams in Uige in the battle against the Marburg virus.”

Meanwhile, the South African-based Netcare Travel Clinic, which keeps tabs on outbreaks of diseases in Africa, told prospective travellers not to go to Angola for at least a week.

“Travellers planning to go to Angola should not go there unless it’s absolutely necessary,” said Andrew Jamieson of the Johannesburg-based clinic.

He said that many people including expatriates were considering evacuating their families from the country.

“While this is not considered essential, it will place a burden on transport infrastructure that may cause significant local disruption,” he said.

“It is likely that any uncertainty or disruption caused by this outbreak will resolve in the course of the next week,” he added.

A severe form of haemorrhagic fever in the same family as Ebola, the Marburg virus was first identified in 1967. The disease kills around one in four who contract it, and a specific treatment is unknown.

The Angolan epidemic broke out in October 2004 but has worsened in the past three weeks.

Three-quarters of the deaths have been children under the age of five, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), but the virus has also started to claim adult victims including at least six medical workers. - Sapa-AFP

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