Mysterious fever kills 14 in western Uganda

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KAMPALA, Nov 16 (Reuters) A mysterious fever has killed 14 people and infected 37 others in western Uganda over the last three months, a Health Ministry official said today.

Sam Okware said the fever, though deadly, was not haemorrhagic.

Blood samples from it had already tested negative for the killer Marburg virus that infected three people in a nearby district in August, killing one.

Victims of the fever in Uganda's Bundibugyo District, on the border with Democratic Republic of Congo, died not from bleeding but from dehydration because of severe diarrhoea. All had complained of fever and abdominal pains before dying.

''We're investigating but we really don't know what it is,'' Okware said. ''We tested for Marburg, thank God it was negative. It is most likely a virus, but we haven't identified it.'' Okware said the disease was unlikely to be Rift Valley fever, which has killed 96 people in neighbouring Sudan.

''It could also be leptospirosis, which comes from contact with rodents, or typhus fever. There are a lot of funny viruses in those mountains,'' he said.

New cases were still emerging regularly. ''It is not at all contained,'' he said.

In 2000, Uganda was hit by an epidemic of the deadly Ebola virus, in which those infected often bleed to death. It infected 425 people, just over half of whom died.

Reuters PY DB2122

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