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Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 18:18 GMT
DR Congo epidemics hit vulnerable
Scene from a previous outbreak in DR Congo
Contagious fevers can create panic
More than 500 people have died in various epidemics over the last month in rebel-held areas of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

A flu outbreak in Equateur province, in the north-west of the country, has been the most deadly, killing 522 people, an epidemiologist told the BBC.

Dr Benoit Kabela, of the Congolese health ministry, said that haemorrhagic fever had also killed four people in the Orientale province in less than a week.

He said that many others had died in a meningitis epidemic in Sud-Kivu province, and that more than 1,600 had died of the disease across the country this year.

Ebola?

The town of Bosobolo, with a population of 270,000, is the epicentre of the flu oubreak.

Its hospitals has only 150 beds, Dr Kabela said, adding that morale is low among staff because of lack of pay and a shortage of medicine and vaccines.

Most of the victims are children and elderly people.

Bosobolo lies near the border with the Central African Republic, and Dr Kabela says the epidemic has been caused by people moving across the border.

Dr Kabela said that the epidemic of haemorrhagic fever in Orientale was unlikely to be Ebola as none of the relatives of the victims of the disease, which is contagious, had caught it.

Symptoms include blood in urine, as well as bleeding from the nose and eyes.

He said samples had been sent for testing.

See also:

20 Dec 01 | Africa
17 Dec 01 | Africa
10 Dec 01 | Africa
27 Feb 01 | Africa
06 Dec 00 | Africa
20 Oct 00 | Medical notes
18 Oct 00 | Health
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