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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 17:14 GMT
Deadly flu virus ravages DR Congo

A deadly flu epidemic has struck more than a million people and killed more than 100 in Kinshasa, according to the Democratic Republic of Congo's health ministry.

The flu, which was first reported in the Central African Republic in September, has now been registered in four Congolese provinces, where authorities say it has killed at least 2,000 people.

The head of the epidemiology department at the Democratic Republic of Congo's ministry of health says that more than a million people in Kinshasa, a city of six million, are suffering from the flu.

Symptoms include fever, headaches, painful limbs and a sore throat.

Dr Kebela Ilunga said more than 100 people are believed to have died in the city.

Woeful condition

It has been confirmed this week that it is the same flu strain that was first reported in September in the northern Bosobolo health zone, and before then on the other side of the Oubangiu river in the Central African Republic.

Kinshasa skyline
The flu has now spread to Kinshasa

Refugees, rebel soldiers and traders are believed to have brought the virus into DR Congo, where Health Minister Dr Mashako Mamba said, it has killed more than 2,000 people.

The vast majority were infants and old people living in isolated and impoverished jungle communities in the northern Equatuer Province, under the control of the rebel Movement for the Liberation of Congo.

The war has meant clinics and hospitals there are in a woeful condition, lacking both doctors and medicines.

The health ministry says the epidemic has now reached not only Kinshasa but also the neighbouring provinces of Bandundu and Bas Congo.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, which is supporting efforts in the capital to treat sufferers, says flu has also been reported this week in neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville.

The health ministry says this is the same strain which killed more than 700 people in Madagascar last year, but believes that the worst is now over.


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06 Feb 03 | Africa
26 Nov 02 | Africa
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