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Last Updated: Friday, 5 December, 2003, 16:58 GMT
Funeral rites 'may spread Ebola'
Ebola ward
There is no cure for Ebola
Persuading people not to touch the dead may help stem the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, say experts.

The current outbreak of the haemorrhagic fever in northwestern Congo has killed at least 29 people.

Funeral rites in the area include touching the deceased as a way of proving that you had nothing to do with the death.

World Health Organization experts have travelled to the town of Mbomo to warn of the dangers.

The team, which includes a medical anthropologist, will try to encourage people to honour their dead with a different ceremony which is normally used when someone dies abroad

Fadela Chaib, a WHO spokeswoman, said: "This illness incites a lot of fear and a lot of myths."

Deadly haemorrhages

Ebola causes high fever, diarrhoea and bleeding from the nose and gums, and can induce massive internal haemorrhages.

It is thought that a total of 48 people have contracted the virus in the latest outbreak.

The Congolese health ministry has said a further 98 people were thought to be at risk, and were under observation in Mbomo, the main town in the Cuvette West region.

These people have had direct contact with Ebola patients or the bodies of those who have died.

Ebola is thought to be contracted by people who eat the flesh of infected animals in the central African rain forest.

In 2002, the Cuvette West region was quarantined due to an Ebola outbreak that claimed more than 100 lives.




SEE ALSO:
New Ebola deaths in north Congo
26 Nov 03  |  Africa
Ebola 'could be spread by birds'
18 Dec 02  |  Health
Ebola cure hope
05 Aug 99  |  Health
Ebola and other tropical viruses
08 Feb 03  |  Medical notes
Country profile: Republic of Congo
09 Oct 03  |  Country profiles


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