January 23, 2009

All patients have been discharged from the MSF isolation center in Kampungu, Western Kasai province, in central Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where they were being monitored for Ebola hemorrhagic fever. The patients no longer presented symptoms and were in good overall health.

All patients have been discharged from the Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) isolation center in Kampungu, Western Kasai province, in central Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where they were being monitored for Ebola hemorrhagic fever. The patients no longer presented symptoms and were in good overall health.

Since the last confirmed Ebola patient died, on January 1, all suspected patients' samples were analyzed and tested negative. Patients who were brought into the isolation center stopped presenting symptoms after a few days and no casualties occured. The three patients who were admitted last week were also discharged as their tests came back negative.

"We can say that for now the outbreak is under control," said Rosa Crestani, from the MSF emergency unit based in Brussels. "Until yesterday, MSF teams were still monitoring around 100 people who had been in contact with others suspected of or confirmed as having Ebola, in order to prevent further possible transmission of the disease. However, it has been 21 days since the last confirmed Ebola case, which is the longest incubation period known. This means that the contact people are not infected with the virus.

"On the other hand, one man who had been in the forest died yesterday and presented some symptoms that make him a suspect case," added Crestani. "The MSF teams are therefore on stand-by; the isolation center remains open and they are ready to respond to new cases, should they occur."

Samples from the deceased man have been taken and will be analyzed over the weekend.

To date, 48 patients in total have shown symptoms of Ebola hemorrhagic fever. Seven patients have tested positive for  the Ebola virus after sample analysis in laboratories. Of the seven confirmed cases, two have died. The 41 remaining patients were all suspected cases, of whom 12 have died.

MSF arrived in Western Kasai on December 23 after an Ebola outbreak was declared in mid-December. Today, an MSF team of 15 is working in Western Kasai. The team consists of doctors, nurses, water and sanitation specialists, health promoters, logisticians, and a psychologist.

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