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Friday, 5 October, 2001, 21:01 GMT 22:01 UK
WHO dismisses Afghan virus 'scare'
A patient suffering from Congo Virus in hospital in Quetta
Crimean Congo fever resembles the Ebola virus
Reports warning of an outbreak of a deadly viral disease similar to Ebola on the frontier between Afghanistan and Pakistan are "incorrect and misleading," the World Health Organisation (WHO) says.

It says reports of a potential epidemic of Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) have been exaggerated.


Nothing suggests it will get worse

Ian Simpson, World Health Organisation
WHO says there have been only 35 reported cases of the virus in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region this year and only four people are currently being treated.

It had been suggested that Afghan refugees were particularly at risk.

Hungry for stories

There were fears that they might spread the virus in Pakistan as they flee from their own country.

But WHO says the reports caught the attention of the international media because there are many journalists in the area looking for stories.

Afghan refugees
Thousands of Afghans have fled to Pakistan

The symptoms of CCHF are similar to those of the deadly Ebola virus but Ian Simpson of the WHO Centre for Communicable Diseases in Geneva said there were important differences: "It doesn't spread as quickly, and there is a significantly higher recovery rate."

Mr Simpson told Reuters news agency that the disease would decline with the onset of winter.

The ticks that transmit the disease will be wiped out by cold weather, he said.

The WHO says that rumours of CCHF being spread as biological warfare are nonsense.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andrew Webb
"So far there has been no official diagnosis"
See also:

04 Oct 01 | South Asia
Ebola style virus hits Pakistan
04 Oct 01 | Americas
Bush pledges Afghan aid
28 Sep 01 | South Asia
Eyewitness: 'Heat, dust and desolation'
02 Mar 00 | Sci/Tech
Ebola cure possible
20 Oct 00 | Medical notes
Ebola and other tropical viruses
15 Oct 99 | Health
Clues on Ebola's origin
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