May 16, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – Nine people have died in the Republic of Congo from a hemorrhagic disease that authorities are describing as “Ebola-like,” and at least another 52 people who had contact with the victims are being monitored, according to news reports today.The prelude to the cluster of deaths follows a plot that could be lifted from past Ebola outbreaks. A hunting party from Itoumbi and Mbomo districts, several hundred kilometers north of Brazzaville, the capital, encountered a dead monkey and ate it, according to Alphonse Gando, the Congo Republic’s minister of health, as reported by Agence France-Presse (AFP) on May 12.Ebola is a highly contagious filovirus that can cause a gruesome death following hemorrhaging and is lethal in 50% to 90% of cases. Although there is no treatment and little is understood about its animal reservoir, contact with primates has been known to precipitate human outbreaks. The Congo Republic and neighboring Gabon have had several Ebola outbreaks, which have killed about 360 people since 1994, AFP reported.”We don’t have lab confirmation yet, but it has all the features of an Ebola outbreak,” said Dick Thompson, a World Health Organization spokesman, as quoted in a New York Times story today.Congo Republic health officials have moved quickly since the outbreak began in late April to investigate and stop the spread of the disease, according to the Times. This may indicate the country is learning how to cope with such outbreaks, Thompson told the newspaper.In nearby Angola, authorities are still struggling with the deadliest known outbreak of a similar hemorrhagic disease caused by the Marburg virus. New cases were still being reported, Reuters news service reported today, despite repeated announcements from local authorities that the outbreak was coming under control.”The outbreak is not over,” Aphaluck Bhatiasevi of the WHO told Reuters. The death toll stood at 292, with 336 known cases, Reuters reported. WHO numbers reported May 11 were lower: 316 known cases and 276 deaths.Authorities seemed most concerned about the appearance of apparently unrelated cases. “We’ve seen new cases in new municipalities that don’t have obvious links to earlier cases of Marburg,” Bhatiasevi said. “We are trying to do as much tracing as possible.”Preventing the spread of Marburg as a byproduct of certain traditional practices, particularly cleaning the dead before burial, continues to be a challenge for healthcare workers, Jose Van Dunem, a deputy health minister, told Reuters. Six traditional healers have died, but others are beginning to change their habits, he added.See also:May 13 WHO statement on Congo Republic outbreakhttp://www.who.int/csr/don/2005_05_13/en/index.htmlMay 11 WHO statement on Marburg outbreak in Angolahttp://www.who.int/csr/don/2005_05_11/en/index.html
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They happened five months and more than 6,000 miles apart.First, there was the late March press conference at the Galen Center in Los Angeles where first-team All-Pac-10 center Nikola Vucevic declared he was skipping his senior season at USC to enter the NBA draft.Just last week, in a nondescript gymnasium outside Sao Paulo, star senior guard Jio Fontan landed awkwardly after being hit on a drive to the basket late in the first half of USC’s preseason game against a Brazilian professional team, tearing a ligament in his left knee and ending his season before it started.USC’s 2011-2012 basketball season doesn’t tip off until mid-November, yet its two defining moments have already taken place.The Trojans record is still unblemished at 0-0, but it feels like they’ve already lost so much.Now, let’s spare the doom and gloom and refrain from calling this a lost season for USC basketball.It is still only August and the Trojans have some intriguing young talent.USC’s group of freshmen and transfers could end up gelling very well together.A return trip to the NCAA tournament isn’t out of the question.The season that will be, however, is overshadowed by what could have been.With Vucevic and Fontan in the lineup alongside guard Maurice Jones, the Trojans would have returned their top three scorers from a season ago.Instead, USC now only boasts two players on its roster that scored in a game for the Trojans last year — Jones and sophomore forward Garrett Jackson.Newcomers Aaron Fuller and Dewayne Dedmon would have been expected to fill their roles solidly, not spectacularly.Now, they will be counted on to shoulder a good portion of the offensive load.The leftover effects of the O.J. Mayo scandal won’t help the team cope with the losses of Vucevic and Fontan, either.“Right now, this third year, especially with Jio getting hurt, that’s when you get hit with the remnant of these sanctions where we lost two recruiting classes,” USC coach Kevin O’Neill said. “We have a bunch of inexperienced guys that have never played. They’re going to get a lot of experience early and hopefully they respond well and turn themselves into a really good postseason team.”This could have been a banner season for recently rejuvenated USC basketball.After making only six NCAA tournament appearances from 1962 to 2000, the Trojans have qualified six times in the last 11 seasons.USC’s runs to the Elite Eight in 2001 and the Sweet 16 in 2007 marked the first time the program had made it past the second round of the Big Dance since 1954.“Our only goal is to make the NCAA tournament and try to win the Pac-12 title,” O’Neill said. “Those are our goals and I don’t think we should change those goals.”Fontan’s injury was an especially cruel blow to the Trojans, with his teammates forced to watch their leader stretchered off the floor.“In my career, I’ve never felt worse for a player than I feel for him,” O’Neill said. “The first two and a half games [of the Brazil trip], he was playing at a first-round-NBA-draft-pick level. I feel bad for him that way and bad for our team that he can’t be there to lead us and do all the things that a guy of his caliber would do.”Freshman Alexis Moore, from Long Beach Poly High, will be tasked with stepping into Fontan’s spot in the starting lineup.“He’s going to have to be a guy that doesn’t play like a freshman,” O’Neill said. “And even then, it’s going to be very difficult for a guy his age to step into his role that requires a ton of leadership, especially for what is a very young and inexperienced team now.”The schedule will do the Trojans no favors, either.With non-conference games against Kansas, San Diego State and Georgia, a potential tournament date with North Carolina in Las Vegas and a challenging Pac-12 slate, USC’s young players will be tested early and often.This season, however, will not make or break USC basketball.The gains the Trojans have made over the last decade have been substantial. The program weathered the storm of NCAA sanctions while enjoying its greatest run of success in recent history.The future remains bright for the Trojans — a talented and youthful roster, an experienced head coach and a recruiting foothold in the Southern California basketball market are all long-term assets.The short term gains of the 2011-2012 year, however, don’t look nearly as promising as how they were projected six months ago. “Sellin’ the Sizzle” runs Wednesdays. To comment on this article, visit dailytrojan.com or email Jonathan at firstname.lastname@example.org.