KINSHASA, Congo – Lab results confirm a deadly illness outbreak in southeastern Congo as Ebola fever, officials said Monday.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and another lab in Gabon confirmed the disease as a hemorrhagic fever, and specifically as Ebola, Health Minister Makwenge Kaput said on national television.
More than 100 people have died of illness in the affected region, an area called Mweka, since late August.
Makwenge did not provide further details or say if the outbreak had since been contained.
Medical inspectors had previously said that people began dying after high-profile funerals of two village chiefs in the region where relatives usually wash the bodies of the deceased by hand.
In the past, Congo has seen large outbreaks of Marburg and Ebola, both hemorrhagic fevers caused by viruses that, in severe cases, attack the central nervous system and cause bleeding from the eyes, ears and other parts of the body.
By the end of August, four villages had been affected and 217 people had come down with the illness, including 103 who died. About 140,000 people live in the Mweka area.
Congo's last major Ebola outbreak struck in Kikwit in 1995, killing 245 people. Kikwit is about 300 kilometers (185 miles) from the site of the current purported outbreak.