Killer Fever Claims More Lives in Saudi Arabia

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Updated 4:05 PM ET September 30, 2000DUBAI (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia said on Saturday that eight more people had died from Rift Valley Fever, raising to 77 the official toll from the disease in the kingdom and in neighboring Yemen.

A Saudi Health Ministry statement, quoted by the official Saudi Press Agency, said a total of 46 people there had died among the 214 who contracted the viral disease which broke out around three weeks ago.

It is thought to be the first outbreak of the disease outside Africa, where it originates. It is transmitted by mosquitoes or by human contact with infected animals.

Yemeni Health Minister Abdullah Abdul Wali Nasher said on Friday night that there had been no new deaths in his country since Wednesday, when he put the official toll at 31. Some 117 others had also contracted the disease.

"The situation is now under control," Nasher told state-run television.

The two Arab states, which are working together and with the help of international experts and organizations to fight the disease, had earlier said the disease had claimed 69 lives.

On Monday, the U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said it had reports of at least 74 deaths in both countries, while newspapers and local medical sources had said that more than 200 people have died.

The Rome-based body has said it was the first known outbreak of Rift Valley Fever outside Africa.