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WIRE: 12/12/2001 8:43 am ET
Ebola victim disappears from Gabon village, raising fears disease could spread
LIBREVILLE, Gabon (AP) A woman infected with the deadly Ebola virus has disappeared from her village in the Central African nation of Gabon, and health officials fear she fled to neighboring Republic of Congo and could spread the disease.
Villagers told local authorities the woman believed she had been bewitched and left the remote village of Ntolo to join relatives on the other side of the border, said provincial health director Dr. Prosper Abessolo-Mengue.
The woman is one of at least two people infected with Ebola in a recent outbreak that has killed 10 others in Gabon. Authorities have been trying to keep the highly contagious disease from spreading beyond the affected region in the remote northeastern province of Ogooue Ivindo.
Upon hearing about the woman's disappearance, Gabon authorities notified their counterparts in Republic of Congo. They asked for help in finding her and in restricting movement across the border.
"We are very worried," Republic of Congo Health Minister Leon Opimbat said by telephone from the capital, Brazzaville.
Health officials in Republic of Congo were educating the local population about Ebola and encouraging them to report any suspect fever outbreaks, he said.
A World Health Organization team arrived Tuesday in the capital, Libreville, and was expected to travel in the coming days to Ogooue Ivindo.
The five-member team including experts from France and the United States will help local authorities isolate and treat victims, as well as distribute protective equipment like gloves and masks to prevent contact with the bodily fluids of patients.
A quarantine has not been imposed on the affected region, but local authorities are monitoring movement to and from the area, Abessolo-Mengue said. Journalists have been barred from traveling there.
This is the first documented outbreak of Ebola since last year, when 224 people including health workers died from the virus in Uganda.
Ebola is one of the most virulent viral diseases known to humankind, causing death in 50 to 90 percent of all clinically ill cases. But it usually kills its victims faster than it can spread, burning out before it can reach too far.
The virus is passed through contact with bodily fluids, such as mucus, saliva and blood, but is not airborne. It incubates for four to 10 days before flu-like symptoms set in. Eventually, the virus causes severe internal bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea.
There is no cure, but patients treated early for dehydration have a good chance of survival.
INTERNET MESSAGE: I'm getting a connection refused error on the breathnoevil site.
INTERNET MESSAGE: brb - have a link for you
INTERNET MESSAGE: http://www.adtdl.army.mil/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/3-7/toc.htm
INTERNET MESSAGE: Here is the current list of FMs:
INTERNET MESSAGE: http://www.adtdl.army.mil/cgi-bin/atdl.dll?authentic=y&type=fm#legend
INTERNET MESSAGE: re biological agents airborne:
INTERNET MESSAGE: http://www.adtdl.army.mil/cgi-bin/atdl.dll/fm/3-6/3-6ch3.htm#s_25
INTERNET MESSAGE: interview regarding ebola:
INTERNET MESSAGE: http://www.accessexcellence.org/WN/NM/interview_murphy.html
INTERNET MESSAGE: It contains an interesting comment regarding smallpox stores (CDC has 500 strains)