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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 March, 2005, 15:27 GMT 16:27 UK
Marburg outbreak worst recorded
The Marburg virus, the Ebola-like bug, has claimed nine more victims in Angola this week making it now the worst ever recorded, health officials say.

The number of deaths from the disease, which has no cure, since the start of the outbreak in October, stands at 126.

A laboratory is to be set up to improve early diagnosis in Uige province, where most of the cases have been recorded.

A second lab will be opened in the capital Luanda as authorities fear the highly-contagious virus could spread.

The toll now exceeds the previous worst outbreak recorded in Angola's neighbour, the Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1998, when 123 died.

Several countries have taken measures to try to halt the spread of the virus.

'Cases still rising'

"We have recorded a total of 132 cases between 13 October 2004 and 30 March 2005, of whom 126 have died," a joint statement by Angola's health ministry and the World Health Organisation (WHO) said.

Early symptoms of Marburg are diarrhoea, stomach pains, nausea and vomiting, which give way to bleeding.

The WHO said most of the Angolan deaths occurred between three and seven days after the onset of symptoms.

Marburg, a severe form of hemorrhagic fever, has no known vaccine or medical treatment.

"Unfortunately the number of cases is still continuing to rise but we're hopeful the situation is going to start improving," said health ministry spokesman Carlos Alberto.

"Our main concern right now is trying to procure more material help, more protective clothing for those working in hospitals," he told news agency Reuters.

Three-quarters of Marburg's victims have been children, according to the WHO.

The infection 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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