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IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Release No: 255-95
May 11, 1995

DEPARTMENT RESPONDS TO MEDICAL EMERGENCY IN ZAIRE

An Air Force C-141 Starlifter loaded with approximately 2,000 pounds of emergency medical supplies departed Andrews AFB, Md., today for Kinshasa, Zaire. The Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance-owned supplies are expected to arrive at Kinshasa Airport on Sunday. They will be used in the ongoing efforts to deal with the possible outbreak of hemorrhagic fever in the Kikwit area of Bandundu Province of Zaire, about 150 miles east of Kinshasa.

The aircraft, assigned to the 60th Airlift Wing at Travis AFB, Calif., is transporting 2,000 face masks, 300 body bags, 2,000 caps, 4,000 examination gloves, 2,100 disposable boots, 200 units of plasma and 2,000 disposable gowns.

Hemorrhagic fever is a serious and communicable disease. It has caused several fatalities among the local population and among health care workers, including two Italian nuns. There are no firm figures on the number of persons who have died.

Zairian authorities have moved to quarantine infected persons. Travel to and from the area may be restricted. Additionally, the Government of Zaire is working to coordinate delivery of sterile handling items such as hospital gowns and gloves and sterile hypodermic needles to the affected area.

The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta is sending a team to Zaire to participate in a World Health Organization mission to help the Government of Zaire identify and combat the outbreak.