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Medical Experts Test for Ebola in Republic of Congo

Medical experts in the Republic of Congo are working to determine if there has been a new outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus. Teams were dispatched earlier this week, following the deaths of at least five people in northern Congo.

Experts are drawing and examining blood samples from the bodies of at least five people who died in recent days in Oloba, a village in the northern Republic of Congo, near the border with Gabon.

The victims had all displayed symptoms that appeared to be those of Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever that can be fatal in up to 90 percent of cases. Symptoms include vomiting, severe diarrhea, and internal bleeding.

The experts, who include a team of World Health Organization officials, hope to confirm whether it was Ebola that killed the five last week.

Scores of people died between October of last year and May of this year during an Ebola outbreak in Congo and Gabon.

Health officials declared the epidemic over last month, after authorities in the affected regions set up quarantine areas and called for local residents to avoid eating apes and other wild animals.

Ebola is spread through bodily fluids. One of the most common means of transmission is by eating the flesh of infected monkeys and other primates. There is no known cure or vaccine to fight the illness.

The virus was first identified in 1976, when an outbreak killed more than 200 people in the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo. The disease is named after the Ebola river, where it was discovered.