Rare Marburg Virus Kills 126 in Angola

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Angola's death toll from an Ebola (search)-like virus has climbed to 126, the Health Ministry and World Health Organization said Thursday, making it the deadliest recorded outbreak of the rare Marburg disease (search).

The worst outbreak of the virus on record killed 123 in neighboring Congo (search) between 1998 and 2000. That was also the last known outbreak.

Angola has recorded 132 cases of the Marburg virus over the past six months, the ministry and WHO said in a joint statement.

Almost all the deaths have occurred in the northern province of Uige, which lies on the border with Congo and since last year has received tens of thousands of refugees returning home after fleeing to the neighboring country to escape Angola's civil war (search).

Officials in Uige have canceled school classes for 30 days and advised locals to take precautions including extra attention to cleanliness and sanitation.

Angola's public infrastructure was wrecked by a two-decade civil war which ended in 2002. Sanitation facilities are inadequate or non-existent, and hospitals are understaffed and poorly equipped.

There is no vaccine or cure for Marburg, which spreads through bodily fluids and can kill rapidly, according to WHO.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta said Wednesday it was sending experts to the Southwest African country. The CDC scientists will assist WHO with outbreak investigation, infection control and laboratory diagnosis.

Doctors Without Borders also is helping the effort and various foreign countries have promised to provide emergency medical aid.