Ebola confirmed to have killed 2 in DR Congo

File picture taken March 9, 2003, of an agent of the Congolese Red Cross disinfecting a room at the Kelle hospital, northwestern Congo, where an Ebola-infected patient lies. DESIREY MINKOH/AFP/Getty Images

KINSHASA, Congo - Congo's health minister says two Ebola deaths have been confirmed in the Central African country.

Felix Kabange Numbi said Sunday that two of eight samples from the northwest Equateur province came back positive for the deadly disease.

Numbi said the samples were from the region where the World Health Organization said an outbreak of hemorrhagic gastroenteritis has killed 70 people in recent weeks.

The WHO said last week those deaths were not Ebola-related.

Numbi said Congolese officials believed Ebola had killed 13 people in the region, including five health workers. He said 11 people were sick and in isolation and that 80 contacts were being traced.

He said the infections were of a different strain than those in the outbreak in West Africa that has killed more than 1,600 people. The disease there has overwhelmed local health care systems and surprised international health officials attempting to stem its spread.

Last week, two alarming new cases of Ebola emerged in Nigeria, widening the circle of people sickened beyond the immediate group of caregivers who treated a dying airline passenger in one of Africa's largest cities.

The two new cases were infected by their spouses, both medical workers who had direct contact with Liberian-American Patrick Sawyer, who flew into Nigeria from Liberia and Togo and infected 11 others before he died in July. The male and female caregivers also then died of Ebola, Health Minister Onyebuchi Chukwu said Friday.

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