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Marburg Virus Outbreak Spreads to Angolan Capital

In Angola, a deadly outbreak of a rare hemorrhagic fever has spread to the capital, Luanda. The Marburg virus epidemic first erupted in the north of the country and has already killed at least 113 people.

The provincial health director in the Angolan capital says two people have died of Marburg virus in Luanda, including an Italian doctor who had been treating Marburg-infected patients in the northern province of Uige, where the epidemic first emerged.

Health officials say at least three other cases of the deadly virus have been diagnosed in the capital, all in people who traveled to Luanda from Uige. So far, nobody is known to have contracted the disease in the capital. But authorities fear that it could spread in the densely populated city if they cannot control the outbreak where it originated.

The rare hemorrhagic fever first appeared late last year in Uige, which borders the Democratic Republic of Congo. The World Health Organization says about three-quarters of the victims have been children under the age of five.

At first, it was not clear what disease was behind the epidemic. But the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control identified it as Marburg virus this week.

Marburg virus is in the same family as the deadly Ebola virus. Like Ebola, its early symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. Within a few days, the disease progresses to internal bleeding and sometimes bleeding from the eyes, nose and mouth. There is no known cure or treatment.

Angolan health officials are working with specialists from the World Health Organization and the international charity Doctors Without Borders to contain the virus in Uige and control any possible spread in the capital.

Health officials are warning residents to take precautions when dealing with anyone who might be infected with Marburg virus, and especially to avoid contact with their bodily fluids, which are highly infectious.