DRC: Typhoid confirmed in western Kasai Province

Friday, September 21, 2007

Five cases of typhoid fever have been confirmed in Kampungu, western Kasai Province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where investigations for Ebola are ongoing, a UN World Health Organization official said.

"We are seeing multiple causes for the reports of illness and death," Gregory Hartl, WHO communications advisor, said on 20 September.

"We are not able to say what proportion is suffering from what disease," he added. "The response is complicated because we are dealing with more than one disease."

Laboratories have been set up in the province for onsite diagnosis with an isolation ward being set up in Kampungu. There are plans to set up more wards in Mweka and Luebo areas.

"So far, we do not have the full epidemiological picture as to how many cases there really are," he said, adding that all cases of Ebola were being isolated in order to halt the spread of the disease.

According to the WHO, figures released by various sources mention 375 cases and 167 deaths in western Kasai Province, but the causes cannot be confirmed yet. Only one case of Shigella, and less than 10 of Ebola, have been confirmed.

According to Hartl, the risk of Ebola spreading to neighbouring countries was relatively low.

On 19 September, the Tanzanian health authorities sent out a warning of Ebola haemorrhagic fever to people living in regions neighbouring the DRC.

"All regional medical officers have been instructed to keep on alert because people from eastern parts of DRC enter into Tanzania," Wilson Mukama, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, said.

Approximately 1,850 cases, with over 1,200 deaths, have been documented since the Ebola virus was first identified in the western equatorial province of Sudan, and in a nearby region of DRC in 1976, after significant epidemics in Yambuku, northern DRC and Nzara in southern Sudan.

Source: IRIN