Feb 19, 2003 (CIDRAP News) As the death toll from hemorrhagic fever in the Congo continued to climb, the World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed yesterday that the disease is Ebola virus infection.
The disease had claimed the lives of 59 people out of 73 infected as of yesterday, WHO officials said in a statement. An Associated Press report put the toll higher: 67 deaths among 80 cases.
The Congolese government has officially declared the outbreak to be Ebola fever, the WHO statement said. Laboratory tests conducted in Gabon confirmed the presence of Ebola virus in clinical samples.
The outbreak is in the Mbomo and Kelle districts in the northwestern Congo. The AP report said efforts to investigate the outbreak have been stymied as frightened villagers have fled health workers in protective suits.
About 1,500 cases of Ebola fever, with slightly more than 1,000 deaths, have occurred since the disease was identified in 1976 in Sudan and Zaire, according to the WHO.
WHO news release