Congo announces 9 suspected Ebola cases, including 2 deaths

KINSHASA, Congo (AP) — Health authorities are investigating nine suspected cases of Ebola in a remote corner of northern Congo, including two deaths, the country’s health minister said Friday.

One Ebola case has been confirmed out of the five tested since the cluster emerged April 22 in Bas-Uele province, Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga said.

This vast Central African nation has had seven known previous Ebola outbreaks, including one in 2014 with several dozen cases. That outbreak was not connected to the massive epidemic in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone that left thousands dead.

Dr. Allarangar Yokouide, the World Health Organization representative in Congo, said the first teams of specialists should arrive in the affected area of Likati on Friday or Saturday. The zone is some 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) from the capital, Kinshasa.

“The area in Likati is difficult to access, but the work of tracing contacts is very crucial to stopping the epidemic in its tracks,” he said.

Ebola is a deadly hemorrhagic fever that occasionally jumps to humans from animals including bats and monkeys. Without preventive measures, the virus can spread quickly between people and is fatal in up to 90 percent of cases.

There is no specific treatment for the disease, though an experimental vaccine was recently developed that WHO says could be used in emergencies.

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