Unknown disease affects more than 100 people, causes 3 deaths in Congo

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo — An unknown epidemic caused three deaths and affected more than 100 people in the last few days in the Republic of Congo, the central African country's national laboratory reported Nov. 27, according to the Xinhua news agency.

"Three people lost their lives since the epidemic broke out. A little more than 100 patients went to Londela Kayes hospital in Niari district, more than 350 km southwest of Brazzaville," a source said in a statement.

Londela Kayes, a region in the southwest of Congo, bears the brunt of the disease, which has symptoms of diarrhea, strong fever and vomiting.

Health authorities dispatched a team to establish the nature of this epidemic.

"It's a flu. We have not yet received the samples which we can use to analyze in order to determine the origin of this disease," an official at the national public health laboratory said, indicating a possibility of A/H1N1 flu outbreak.

"We are just suspecting. In view of the fact that A/H1N1 has already been reported in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, it's possible that with the movements of businessmen and other state agents, other small regions might have been contaminated," he added.

Congo reported its first case of A/H1N1 flu in October in a Brazzaville private school.

The Congolese authorities have put in place an alert system aided by the World Health Organization since 2008 to allow for quick detection of all forms of flu and to respond quickly.