EU unveils new diagnosis of Ebola

Brussels- Belgium (PANA) -- The European Union has announced a new method for quick diagnosis of the deadly Ebola virus.
Andrea Dahmen, spokesperson of Philippe Busquin, the European Commissioner in charge of scientific research, said Monday the new test, based on the detection of viral genomes in the blood "makes it possible to detect infection more quickly.
" With the method, it would be easy to detect the disease at incubation and therefore stem its spread and prevent secondary infections.
Experts say the mortality rate of the haemorrhagic fever is as high as 88 percent.
Among the most frequent modes of transmission is contact with the body or the patient's secretions.
In Africa, the identification of fatal infections such as Ebola or Lasa fever, which affect some one million people annually, is made difficult by the lack of specificity of the symptoms, Dahmen said.
After seven or eight days of incubation, symptoms like fever and headaches, followed by abdominal pains, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and conjunctivitis, appear.
Between the sixth and the sixteenth day comes the lethal shock after the appearance of haemorrhages.
The EU spent some 500,000 Euro on the research work for the formulation of the tests carried out in Gabon, Senegal, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
The two African laboratories that participated in the research are the Franceville-based International Medical Research Centre (CIRMF) in Gabon, and the Dakar-based Pasteur Institute in Senegal.
Dahmen said the aim is to assist countries likely to be afflicted by the virus.
In a statement, Busquin described the "breakthrough" as a demonstration of international and multi-disciplinary co-operation between European and African teams on human health, adding that the impact "goes beyond the borders of a country, even a continent.
" Ebola was first reported in 1976 in DR Congo and Sudan.
It later appeared in Cote d'Ivoire (1994), DR Congo (1995) and Uganda in 1999.
The highest hit country is Gabon, where the epidemic has been reported four times in 1994, 1995, 1996 and 2001.
According to experts, the virus is traced to contacts with chimpanzee or gorilla, primates hunted as games and consumed by the population.

26 february 2002 07:55:00

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