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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 March, 2005, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
Angola quarantine 'to halt virus'
Italian paediatrician Maria Bonino with a child at Uige hospital
An Italian woman doctor working in Uige is among the dead
Quarantine measures have been imposed on Uige in northern Angolan to control an outbreak of the deadly Marburg disease which has killed 117 people.

The deputy health minister said anybody who visited the province would be banned from leaving Angola for 21 days.

The authorities in neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo are setting up inspection points along the border to halt the disease spreading.

Kenya has also announced the setting up of screening measures at airports.

Marburg, a member of the Ebola family of viruses, has officially killed 117 people since October in Angola and a further seven people are infected.

Marburg has no vaccine or curative treatment and can be rapidly fatal, according to the World Health Organization.

Its early symptoms are diarrhoea, stomach pains, nausea and vomiting, which give way to bleeding. Most of the Angolan deaths occurred between three and seven days after the onset of symptoms, the WHO notes on its website.

'No panic'

Earlier Deputy Health Minister Jose van Dunem said he was hopeful the epidemic could be controlled soon but said it was impossible to say when that would be.

"We are quarantining people from Uige, or people who spent time in Uige. They will not be able to leave Angola for 21 days," he said, adding that he was relying to a large extent on people's common sense.

"Each individual must take care of his own life and I believe that based on information available and with all the experts we now have in country, it doesn't make sense to go to other regions or other countries," Mr Van Dunem said.

"There is no reason to panic," he said.

A spokesman for the DR Congo government, Henri Mova Sakanyi, stressed that his country was not closing its border with Angola but taking "preventative measures to ensure that the virus does not cross".

He said that DR Congo and Angola, along with the Republic of Congo, had cooperated in the past to deal with such health threats.

Warning

Angola's outbreak is now approaching the most serious on record in the region, when 123 people died in DR Congo between 1998 and 2000.

The South African-based Netcare Travel Clinic has warned travellers to avoid Angola for at least a week.

UN and aid agency officials have been working with the government to contain the virus in a country with an infrastructure ruined by years of civil war.

The European Union announced last week that it would give $650,000 (348,000) to fight the disease.

According to the WHO, three-quarters of the virus' victims have been children.

Marburg was first identified in 1967 among laboratory workers in Europe who had been working with monkeys.





SEE ALSO:
Ebola-like virus reaches Luanda
25 Mar 05 |  Africa
Ebola and other tropical viruses
08 Feb 03 |  Medical notes
Country profile: Angola
11 Feb 05 |  Country profiles


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