July 17, 2003

Eight die of flu-like disease

A severe flu-like disease has broken out in Zambia's northern district of Nakonde and has so far claimed eight lives. Another 120 people have showed similar symptoms since the outbreak was first reported on Tuesday. Symptoms include high fever, respiratory problems and sneezing.

Central Board of Health director of technical support services Dr Victor Mukonka confirmed the outbreak in four areas in the Nakonde district, which borders Tanzania. He said a team had been dispatched from the capital of Lusaka to Nakonde to reinforce efforts of local health personnel. Doctors have already created isolation areas to control the spread of the disease while they try determine what it is.

The outbreak has raised concern among the travelling public, especially as rumours circulate that it is a local outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Dr Mukonka assured the public that it was not a SARS outbreak as it was already evident it was a virulent strain influenza. "The public should remain calm because the situation is under control and will soon revert to normal as the ministry has put in place all necessary measures to contain the situation," he said. (African Eye News Service, Nelspruit)

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