An Ebola outbreak in Democratic Republic of Congo risks spreading to major towns if not brought under control soon, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.
The death toll has more than doubled since last week to 31, including five health workers. There is no treatment for Ebola, which is highly contagious and can cause internal bleeding. Depending on the strain, it kills between 50 percent and 90 percent of victims.
"The epidemic is not under control. On the contrary the situation is very, very serious," Eugene Kabambi, a WHO spokesman in Congo's capital Kinshasa, told Reuters by telephone.
"If nothing is done now, the disease will reach other places, and even major towns will be threatened," he said.
The disease has so far struck in the towns of Isiro and Viadana in Orientale province in the north east.
In August, 16 people in neighboring Uganda died from Ebola infections, although health experts said the two epidemics are not connected. They have blamed the Congolese outbreak on villagers eating contaminated meat in the forests that cover the region.
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