Good news from Sudan
(or, at least, the end of some bad news)

From: ProMED-mail
Source: Reuters News online, Fri 6 Aug 2004 [edited]

Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever in Sudan Declared Over by WHO

The outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in southern Sudan, which infected 17 people and killed 7, appears to have been halted, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday 6 Aug 2004. A WHO official said the outbreak, first reported in Yambio country of Sudan's Equatoria province in May 2004, would be officially declared over on Sat 7 Aug 2004, 42 days after the death of the last person confirmed infected by the virus.

The incubation period for the disease, whose origin is still unknown despite years of research, is 21 days, and the United Nations agency says an outbreak can be considered over when no new cases have been reported for twice that length of time.

Ebola hemorrhagic fever, which in its worst form causes massive internal bleeding and is one of the most deadly diseases in the world, was first identified in the Sudan in 1976, but has claimed most victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.

Although largely confined to tropical regions of Africa, it has also been reported in rain forest areas in the Western Pacific. The most virulent of its 4 known [genotypes] occurs in the Congo where, in the first known outbreak in 1976, 88 percent of the 318 reported victims died, and in 1995 it killed 81 percent of 315 infected people. Over the last 2 years in the Congo, it killed between 75 percent and 89 percent of all victims, a total of 199, in 3 separate outbreaks.

But death rates in Sudan, which has its own [genotype] and where there had been 2 other outbreaks before 2004, have been much lower, averaging around 50 percent of victims.

A large outbreak caused by the Sudanese [genotype] in Uganda in 2000-2001 affected 425 people but only about half, a total of 224, died. The only other significant outbreaks have been in Gabon -- another country with heavy tropical forest cover.

Health officials say there is still no known cure for the disease which is spread through body fluids, including blood. In 1995 it killed many doctors and nurses in the Congo outbreak. The WHO says its effects can be contained by prompt mobilization of local communities and the strict isolation of victims from physical contact with other people.

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