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Medical News & Perspectives
July 16, 2003

An Ebola Epidemic Simmers in Africa

JAMA. 2003;290(3):317-319. doi:10.1001/jama.290.3.317

An epidemic of Ebola hemorrhagic fever has sputtered along unabated since October 2001 in the dense jungles that span the northern border between Gabon and Congo, raising questions about how health officials respond to outbreaks of the deadly infection.

Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) state that unlike "traditional" Ebola outbreaks, in which a single index case is followed by nosocomial amplification, this epidemic involves possibly seven or more independent infections. Well over 100 deaths have been recorded in the area, but the true number is unknown. Information about the outbreak is limited because of the region's remote nature, and CDC scientists say that the agency has been too overburdened responding to outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), West Nile virus, and monkeypox to closely monitor the situation.

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