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WHO Team Investigates Gabon Ebola Outbreak - 2001-12-12


A World Health Organization team is heading into a region of Gabon where an outbreak of the Ebola virus has killed at least 11 people.

The team arrived in Gabon after World Health Organization officials and the Gabonese government confirmed an Ebola outbreak in Gabon's Ogooue Ivindo province.

All of the cases diagnosed have been in a remote village of the region, near the border with the Republic of Congo.

Gabonese authorities have sealed off the area. The village is near the scene of a major outbreak that killed more than 60 people in 1996.

The WHO team includes an epidemiologist and a laboratory specialist. Their goal is to try to find the source of the disease and prevent it from spreading.

News of a mystery disease first appeared in Gabon last month, when residents reported finding scores of dead animals - mainly primates such as gorillas and chimpanzees.

The Gabonese government this week warned people to avoid eating all forms of wildlife, known locally as "bush meat," - particularly that of animals found dead.

The early symptoms of Ebola are aches and fever, similar to those of influenza. In its more advanced stages, the disease destroys veins, arteries, and other body tissues, and the victim begins to bleed to death. The disease is transmitted through the exchange of bodily fluids. The appearance of Ebola in Gabon coincided with an outbreak in the nearby Democratic Republic of Congo, where about 20 patients last week showed symptoms that resembled Ebola. Health officials say the outbreak in the DRC appears to be a respiratory infection not related to Ebola.

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