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» 07.10.2008 - Small space rock expected over Sudanese sky
» 14.12.2007 - Sudan needs $2 billion
» 15.11.2007 - Fever kills 96 Sudanese
» 14.12.2006 - Darfur polio campaign affected by violence
» 21.11.2006 - Meningitis kills 16 in Sudan
» 20.11.2006 - Moves to contain suspected avian flu in South Sudan
» 09.03.2005 - Polio crosses into Ethiopia from Sudan
» 23.06.2004 - Polio eradication fails as Nigerian virus hits Darfur

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Health | Science - Education

Ebola outbreak confirmed in southern Sudan

afrol News, 24 May - The World Health Organisation (WHO) today confirmed that four people in southern Sudan have died from Ebola, but the agency has recommended no special restrictions on travel or trade as a result of the outbreak and has notified neighbouring countries. The Ebola outbreak may constitute a new and milder strain of the virus, scientists indicate.

Health authorities of Yambio County have reported a total of 19 cases, including the four fatalities, of Ebola haemorrhagic fever in Yambio, Western Equatoria Province, where the outbreak appears to be restricted, the WHO said in a statement today.

Laboratory testing performed by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the outbreak.

The WHO South Sudan Early Warning and Response Network, along with a team from WHO headquarters in Geneva, have been working closely with the health authorities and partners in Yambio County in creating a crisis committee to control the outbreak.

The committee includes the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), Médecins sans Frontières-France and other non-governmental organisations and churches working in public health. The committee is working actively in social mobilisation, supporting case management in Yambio hospital and organising the follow-up of contacts of people who have been ill with the disease, the WHO said.

Scientists at the WHO's southern Sudan office yesterday launched a theory that the current outbreak in Yambio was of an unknown Ebola strain, which they suspected to be milder than the strains known so far. Blood tests taken from the infected and analysed at the CDC had indicated that the outbreak was not linked to the known strains of Ebola viruses.

So far, the death rate has been far lower than in Ebola outbreak previously registered, the WHO's southern Sudan office noted. The strain thus hopefully was milder than the strains of the virus known by now.

The Ebola virus, which was first discovered in the 1970s, has at least two different strains that have been mapped so far and are characterised by their different mortality rates. The South Sudan strain, which usually hits in East Africa, has a mortality rate of around 50 percent but is the most contagious.

The so-called Zaire strain of the virus - which normally occurs in the two Congos and Gabon - is the most lethal, with a mortality rate of 70-90 percent. This strain is however somewhat less contagious, meaning that outbreaks burn out quicker and normally leave a lower total death toll.

There is an ongoing genetic screening at CDC laboratories of the Ebola virus causing the current southern Sudanese outbreak to establish whether it may represent a third Ebola strain. Observations in Sudan so far indicate that the suspected new strain has a mortality rate of between 25 and 30 percent.

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