Health workers who left western Angola (search) after they were attacked by residents fearful of a deadly Ebola-like virus have resumed efforts to contain the disease, the World Health Organization (search) said Sunday.
Residents in Uige province had mistakenly feared the WHO teams were spreading — instead of helping contain — the rare Marburg virus (search), which has killed 184 people out of a total 200 people infected, WHO's spokesman in Angola, Dave Daigle, told the Associated Press by phone.
"Three teams have already resumed activities and are now following up on anyone who had contact with infected people recently," Daigle said.
Like Ebola, which also has hit Africa, Marburg is a hemorrhagic fever. It spreads through contact with bodily fluids and can kill rapidly. There is no vaccine.
Daigle said the WHO had launched an education campaign to help contain the virus and prevent a recurrence of Thursday's attacks.
"We're doing radio announcements, meeting with church leaders and local authorities, to reach out to people and not only explain to them what we're doing but get their support," Daigle said.
Meanwhile Doctors Without Borders, a global relief organization that runs an isolation ward at a hospital for victims of the virus, has advised that the hospital should be closed to contain the spreading of the virus.
The organization's emergency coordinator in Uige, Monica de Castellarnau, characterized the situation as "very worrying" and said Sunday by phone that "the hospital be shut down temporarily, until the outbreak is controlled."
She said Doctors Without Borders (search) was also attacked on Thursday and said hostility toward medical workers was due to a lack of information.
"We are doing the best to inform people because they are afraid and not only become hostile, but fail to report cases of the disease to us, making it harder to contain the virus," she said.
Several deaths attributed to the virus have been reported in four other provinces, but the only confirmed Marburg deaths can be traced back to Uige.
Two cases have been confirmed in Angola's capital, Luanda, but there has been no transmission of the virus there.
The worst previously recorded outbreak of the virus killed 123 people in neighboring Congo between 1998 and 2000, the last known outbreak of Marburg.