KINSHASA, 20 November 2007 (IRIN) - Health officials in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said an outbreak of Ebola haemorrhagic fever, which claimed the lives of 21 of the 26 people infected in the Kasai Occidental province, is now over.
Congolese health officials have said the Ebola outbreak in Kasai Occidental province is over
"We can say today that the Ebola epidemic has been completely brought under control," Health Minister Makwenge Kaput told reporters on 19 November.
He said authorities had waited 42 days since the last Ebola-related death in Kampungu village before making the announcement - double the time of the 21-day incubation period of the virus.
Some 264 people had fallen ill in Kampungu since April, including 187 fatalities, but experts confirmed only 26 cases of Ebola, according to Eugene Kabambi, communications officer for the UN World Health Organization in DRC.
The highly-contagious and often fatal Ebola virus
Ebola is characterised by fever, diarrhoea, severe blood loss and intense fatigue. It is transmitted through direct contact with the bodily fluids of infected persons or of other primates. There is no cure, and health experts say between 50 and 90 percent of victims die. The best way of halting its spread is through prevention, prompt detection and the isolation of suspected cases.
The DRC has experienced Ebola epidemics in 1976 in Yambuku, Orientale province, in Kikwit, Bandundu, in 1995, where at least 250 deaths were reported, and in Watsa, Orientale, in 1999.