Tags: Dread | Ebola | Could | Spread | West

Dread Ebola Could Spread to West

Wednesday, 29 November 2000 12:00 AM

The most recent outbreak of Ebola occurred last month in Uganda. By Nov. 17 it had killed 107 of the 329 people it infected – a low rate of fatality for a scourge with a mortality rate as high as 90 percent.

Although Ebola has been confined to Africa, health authorities fear that it could be imported to the West by travelers coming from Africa and carrying the virus.

"International travel is always a concern," James W. LeDuc, an official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told Business Week magazine.

Ebola, which begins with a skyrocketing fever and progresses within a week to massive internal bleeding, followed in the majority of cases by excruciating death, made its debut in the Congo in 1976. In that outbreak 88 percent of the 378 victims died. It is spread by personal contact and is not airborne like many other infectious diseases.

The next outbreak in 1995, also in the Congo, killed 315 people. Later, in Gabon, another outbreak slew 97 in 1996.

There was a scare in the U.S. when a shipment of infected monkeys was discovered in Virginia, but an outbreak was averted.

Although the lower rate of death in the most recent outbreak in Uganda heartened researchers, they also voiced the fear that Ebola could lie dormant in the bodies of recovered victims, who could then infect others with whom they came in contact.

"Our fear is that it will change into something more like measles of influenza, where there is easy airborne transmission," Le Duc said.

Researchers have had some success in isolating certain features of the virus, but warn that there is no cure or vaccine in sight.

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The most recent outbreak of Ebola occurred last month in Uganda. By Nov. 17 it had killed 107 of the 329 people it infected - a low rate of fatality for a scourge with a mortality rate as high as 90 percent. Although Ebola has been confined to Africa, health authorities...
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2000-00-29
Wednesday, 29 November 2000 12:00 AM
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