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Friday, 2 August, 2002, 09:27 GMT 10:27 UK
Madagascar virus toll rises
Poor Madagascans
Recent conflict has left Madagascar in desperate poverty
More than 150 people have now died from a mystery viral infection on Madagascar in the past two weeks says Health Minister Andry Rasamindrakotroka.

Mr Rasamindrakotroka said more than 60 of the victims were from the village of Ikongo in the southeast of the Indian Ocean island.

He said a further 89 people had died in the Alakamisy Ambohimaha region.

Doctors in Madagascar have been baffled by the virus which leaves its sufferers with "flu-like symptoms" that can lead to death if left untreated.

Mr Rasamindrakotroka said many of those infected died because they were unable to reach a hospital or clinic in time.

He appealed for anyone with the symptoms to seek medical treatment as soon as possible and confirmed that health care would be administered free of charge in the island's hospitals until further notice.

Madagascar has just emerged from a violent power struggle which lasted seven months and inflicted long term damage upon the already shaky economy and government infrastructure.

Unidentified illness

According to our correspondent in Madagascar, the problem is that many people in the region are using traditional methods to treat the virus, believing it to be common flu, instead of seeking medical attention in hospital.

Madagascan child
Many children are underweight and weak

The ministry of health has despatched specialist delegations to the southeast to try to isolate the spread of the illness.

However, experts remain unsure about what it is exactly they are treating.

And there are fears the number of deaths will continue to rise.


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29 Jul 02 | Business
24 Jul 02 | Business
22 Jul 02 | Africa
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