From: Reuters
Published December 1, 2007 07:54 AM

Death-toll rises from Uganda's Ebola outbreak

By Francis Kwera

KAMPALA (Reuters) - Two more Ugandans have died of a new strain of the deadly Ebola virus in an outbreak near the border with Democratic Republic of Congo, bringing the death-toll to 18, health officials said on Saturday.

"We have had two more deaths in the last 24 hours, and the disease continues to spread," Sam Zaramba, the Ugandan Health Ministry's director of health services, told Reuters.

Zaramba said World Health Organization (WHO) officials had teamed up with local experts to draw up a strategy to contain the outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever in the western Bundibugyo region. More than 50 people are also infected.

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"We have set up isolation wards where all those who have been diagnosed with Ebola have been quarantined, and are being monitored closely," Zaramba added.

Genetic analysis of samples taken from some of the victims shows it is a previously unknown type of Ebola, making it the fifth strain, U.S. and Ugandan health officials say.

Ebola can cause internal and external bleeding. Victims often die of shock, but symptoms can be vague, including fever, muscle pain and nausea. It is known to infect humans, chimpanzees and gorillas.

Uganda was last hit by an epidemic of Ebola in 2000, when

425 people caught it and just over half of them died.

An outbreak in neighboring Congo this year infected up to 264 people, killing 187, the World Health Organization says.

Ugandan health officials originally suspected Marburg, a close Ebola cousin that infected three people in a different part of western Uganda the month before, killing one.

But samples had tested negative.

(Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Michael Winfrey)

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