The World Health Organization warned on Thursday that an outbreak of the Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo was getting out of control and could threaten major towns, after it claimed 31 lives, according to the BBC.
On August 17, an epidemic was officially declared in the northwestern Orientale Province. The Ebola virus is highly contagious and kills up to 90 percent of those infected, the BBC noted.
The death toll has more than doubled in just the last week, killing five health workers who were working to contain the virus which has no known treatment, said Reuters.
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"The epidemic is not under control. On the contrary the situation is very, very serious," said Eugene Kabambi, a WHO spokesman in Kinshasa.
"If nothing is done now, the disease will reach other places, and even major towns will be threatened," he said.
Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi said on Thursday that results from an international committee looking into how to fight the virus found additional cases, raising the death toll, Agence France Presse reported.
According to the committee's estimates, the epidemic probably began in May, and so far 69 cases have been noted, said Numbi.
AFP said the disease is named after a small river in the DRC, and in fatal cases the victims bleed from their orifices before death.
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