Ebola Outbreak Is Worst in Years

Doctors being airlifted into Congo to help combat outbreak
By Colleen Barry,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2007 11:04 AM CDT
Virus hunters dissect bats in Durba, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in this image taken in November 1999. Virus hunters are preparing to enter a mine Wednesday Aug. 8, 2007 in a remote part of...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – Doctors are being airlifted into the Democratic Republic of Congo to help treat what may be the worst outbreak of Ebola virus in years, the Washington Post reports. Only nine cases of the disease have been confirmed in labs, but almost 550 are suspected, including 168 resulting in deaths. The outbreak is centered in isolated rural areas connected only by rutted dirt roads.

"It's a serious outbreak," said an official with the US Centers for Disease Control. "Every day there is a new town with a reported suspect case." A 100-mile stretch of the countryside appears to be affected, making it difficult to isolate specific regions. There's no cure for the highly contagious virus, which is frequently fatal, so the only way to combat it is to quarantine patients.