January 12, 2009 / 1:36 PM / 11 years ago

WHO says no alarm over Ebola spreading to Angola

Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) staff attend to an Ebola patient inside an isolation ward in Bundibugyo, Uganda, December 12, 2007. REUTERS/Claude Mahoudeau/MSF/Handout

LUANDA (Reuters) - The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Monday there was no indication the deadly Ebola virus had crossed to Angola from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it has killed 13 people.

“The epidemic is in the province of Kasai in Western Congo. There is no evidence it has spread to Angola,” Luis Sambo, WHO regional director for Africa, said after meeting with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

“At this moment there is no reason to be alarmed.”

His comments came after Angola closed part of its northeastern border with the Congo where an Ebola outbreak, in addition to killing 13 people, is believed to have infected 40 more.

The incurable haemorrhagic fever, which has a mortality rate of 50-to-90 percent, is transmitted by contact with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people.

Burial ceremonies where mourners have direct contact with the body of the deceased can play a significant role in the transmission of Ebola. Health care workers have frequently been infected while treating Ebola patients.

In 2005, 329 people died in Angola’s northern town of Uige, close to the border with Congo from a cousin to Ebola known as the Marburg virus.

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