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Thursday, 6 December, 2001, 17:01 GMT
Mystery fever hits DR Congo, Gabon
Ebola victims in Uganda
More than 170 Ugandans died from the Ebola outbreak
The Democratic Republic of Congo and neighbouring Gabon have both been hit by mystery viruses which, it is feared, could prove to be Ebola.


There are at least six dead and the situation is getting worse

Faustin Boukoubi
Gabon's health minister
Seventeen people have died in DR Congo, according to the United Nations, while Gabon's health minister says that six people have died in the north of the country.

Epidemiologists from the World Health Organisation, the Ministry of Health and international agencies left the Congolese capital Kinshasa on Thursday to establish whether it is indeed Ebola.

There is no known cure for Ebola and 70% of its victims bleed to death within days.

Waiting

The BBC's Mark Dummett in Kinshasa says the UN-led team has gone to the town of Ilebo in Kasai Occidental province more than 500 kilometres (300 miles) east of the capital Kinshasa.

He says 30 cases of haemorrhagic fever have been confirmed in the past two weeks in that province.

They will also establish how many other people have been affected.

Those people who have died so far, have done so between 24 and 36 hours after contracting the fever, though a UN spokesman added that others had responded well to treatment.

The holy Kaba

In Gabon, troops have accompanied a medical team to the village of Mekambo, in the region where 66 people were killed by Ebola in 1996.

Report back

"There are at least six dead and the situation is getting worse," Health Minister Faustin Boukoubi told Reuters news agency.

He did not say whether or not it was Ebola and the team in Mekambo has not yet issued its findings.

Ebola killed 170 people in northern Uganda last year.

In 1995, 265 died in the Congolese town of Kikwit, also in Kasai Occidental province.

The disease was discovered in 1976 near the Ebola River in the DR Congo.

See also:

27 Feb 01 | Africa
Uganda Ebola free
06 Dec 00 | Africa
Compensation for Ebola deaths
04 Dec 00 | Africa
Uganda's Ebola nursing toll
20 Oct 00 | Medical notes
Ebola and other tropical viruses
18 Oct 00 | Health
Africa's emerging virus threat
06 May 99 | Health
Ebola ruled out in Congo fever
15 Jan 99 | Africa
Fighting back at ebola
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