A mysterious haemorrhagic disease suspected to be Ebola has killed at least 23 people and infected dozens more in Sudan’s under-developed south, a southern Sudanese army official said.
The World Health Organisation says Ebola, one of the most virulent viral diseases known to mankind, was discovered in south Sudan and the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976.
Some strains have a death rate of 25 to 90 %.
Kuol Diem Kuol, spokesman for the south Sudan army (SPLA) said blood samples had been sent to laboratories for testing but that doctors suspected it was Ebola.
“So far from the SPLA there are 20 killed and three wives (of soldiers) also died,” he told Reuters.
“There is a huge number of the population affected that we don’t have the (exact) number of,” he added.
A UN official in the south said they had attempted an assessment but needed more information from local government to be able to assess the situation.
Kuol said symptoms included vomiting blood and bleeding from the ears and nose, adding it was very widespread in the Western Bahr al-Ghazal state.
A 2004 outbreak of Ebola killed seven people in the south. Death rates in Sudan averaged around 50 % of victims.
Health officials say there is still no known cure for the disease, which is spread through bodily fluids, including blood.
South Sudan, emerging from decades of civil war, has little health infrastructure and few medical staff.