Eight more Ebola cases found in Congo, WHO reports

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GENEVA, Sep 26 (Reuters) Eight more cases of the deadly Ebola haemorrhagic fever have been confirmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo, bringing the total to 17, the World Health Organisation said.

WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib said six of the 17 known Ebola victims died in the southern province of Kasai Occidental.

The number of Ebola deaths could rise as further laboratory test results were expected from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), she said yesterday.

Ebola, which causes death in 50 to 90 percent of cases, is transmitted by contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected persons.

Symptoms begin with fever and muscle pain, followed by vomiting, diarrhoea and in some cases bleeding from orifices.

Typhoid and Shigella diseases have also been confirmed in Kasai Occidental, where authorities have reported 170 deaths among 400 sick people in the past five months, she said.

''The number of people admitted to health centres and hospitals is slowing declining,'' Chaib said.

International experts were examining hospital records and contacting family members in their investigation into the multiple outbreaks, she said.

''It will take time to be able to understand retroactively what happened and what caused disease and death.'' Two mobile laboratories, lent by the United States and Canada, are due to become operational yesterday, allowing experts to get test results quickly.

Messages are being aired on the radio and television to warn people how to avoid transmission of Ebola, which can occur at burial ceremonies where mourners have direct contact with corpses.

No Ebola cases have been reported in eastern DRC, where heavy fighting in recent weeks between government forces and rebels has forced thousands of civilians to flee their homes.

Reuters KK VP0415

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