Contact: CDC Office of Public Affairs (404) 639-3286

May 11, 1995


CDC has received reports from the Government of Zaire and the World Health Organization (WHO) of illness consistent with viral hemorrhagic fever in Kikwit, Zaire. Laboratory tests performed at CDC confirms the presence of Ebola infection in specimens from some of the ill persons in Kikwit. The strain isolated is closely related to the strain that caused Ebola disease in Zaire in 1976. The number of cases and fatalities are unknown. There have been reports of possible viral hemorrhagic fever in other locations outside Kikwit, however, these reports have not been substantiated. Three CDC investigators are in route to Zaire to participate as members of the WHO and government of Zaire team investigating the outbreak.

At present, CDC believes the potential for introduction of Ebola outside of Zaire is low. The impacted area is remote and infrequently visited, and there is no direct air service between the United States and Zaire. However, public health officials and clinicians should be aware of the signs and symptoms of viral hemorrhagic fever, should question persons with suspected viral hemorrhagic fever about recent travel to Africa and should assure proper isolation if Ebola infection is suspected and contact local/state health officials.

Ebola disease is usually characterized by the sudden onset of fever, malaise, myalgia, and headache followed by vomiting and diarrhea. Persons infected with the virus may suffer massive internal hemorrhaging which may lead to severe organ failure. Transmission usually occurs by direct contact with infected blood or other bodily secretions. Transmission in hospitals and other health care settings due to contaminated needles and syringes has also been documented.

Ebola disease was first recognized in Sudan and Zaire in 1976. In those outbreaks over 600 people became ill and over 400 people died. A second outbreak also occurred in Sudan in 1979. In 1989, an episode involving the importation of non-human primates with a strain of Ebola, not thought to produce illness in humans, occurred in suburban Washington, D.C. In 1995, a case of Ebola disease was documented in a primate researcher working in Cote D'Ivoire.

For updated information on the outbreak contact: Thomas Prentiss, 9-011-41-22-791-3221, or Christopher Powell, 9-011-41-22-791-2888 at the World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

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