Monday, March 24, 2014

Ebola epidemic which has already killed 34 spreads to Guinea's capital

Photo: EPA
Voice of Russia | Mar 23, 2014

An Ebola epidemic which has already killed dozens of people in Guinea's southern forests has spread to the capital Conakry, the United Nations' childrens agency said on Sunday.

"At least 59 out of 80 who contracted Ebola across the West African country have died so far. Over the past few days, the deadly haemorrhagic fever has quickly spread from the communities of Macenta, Gueckedou, and Kissidougou to the capital, Conakry," UNICEF said.

Conakry, a vast, sprawling port city on Guinea's Atlantic coast, is estimated to have a population of between 1.5 and two million.

To date, no treatment or vaccine is available for Ebola, which kills between 25 and 90 percent of those who fall sick, depending on the strain of the virus, according to the World Health Organisation.

The disease is transmitted by direct contact with blood, faeces or sweat, or by sexual contact or unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.

UNICEF said at least three victims of the outbreak, which began on February 9, were children.

Medicins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have launched an emergency medical intervention in the southern region where the outbreak of lethal Ebola virus has been identified. The virus has killed scores of people in Guinea, where health officials say the outbreak has reached epidemic proportions.

Guinea's Ministry of Health registered 49 infections since it was first reported last month, broadcaster VOA said. It said 34 people have died, while the BBC put the death toll at 60.

Ebola is one of the most contagious viral diseases known, often resulting in death. The virus cannot be prevented with a vaccine and is untreatable with medication.

Sakoba Keita of the Ministry of Health told VOA that three of 12 virus samples sent to France had been confirmed as Ebola. World Health Organization officials were due to arrive Sunday to conduct additional tests on site, the ministry said.

MSF said that more than 30 tons of medical supplies were en route to Guinea. The organization has a 24-member medical team on the ground and more staffers are scheduled to arrive in coming days.
"We have set up an isolation ward in Gueckedou," Dr Esther Sterk of MSF told VOA, saying an additional isolation ward will be set up in Macenta.

Death toll from Guinea's Ebola epidemic raised to 59

Guinea's government raised the death toll in the Ebola epidemic raging through its southern forests to 59 on Saturday.

The health ministry said workers battling to contain the outbreak in the border region had added a further 25 deaths to the toll of 34 given earlier in the day, with a total of 80 cases registered.

The Ebola virus has been identified as the source of an outbreak of hemorrhagic fever in southern Guinea, the west African nation said on Saturday as the death toll rose to 34.

Experts in Guinea had been unable to identify the highly contagious disease, whose symptoms - diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding - were first observed six weeks ago but scientists in the French city of Lyon confirmed it was Ebola, the Guinean health ministry said.

"We got the first results from Lyon yesterday (Friday) who informed us of the presence of the Ebola virus as the cause of this outbreak," said Sakoba Keita, the ministry's chief disease prevention officer said.

"Up to today we have identified 49 cases with 34 deaths in four prefectures."

To date, no treatment or vaccine is available for Ebola, which kills between 25 and 90 percent of those who fall sick, depending on the strain of the virus, according to the WHO.

Voice of Russia, AFP, dpa

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