Guinea has received confirmation that a mysterious disease that has killed up to 59 people in the West African country, and may have spread to neighboring Sierra Leone, is the hemorrhagic fever Ebola, the government said on Saturday.
Cases of the disease - among the most virulent pathogens known to infect humans, with a fatality rate of up to 90 percent - have been recorded in three southeastern towns and in the capital Conakry since February 9. It has never before been recorded in Guinea.
“It is indeed Ebola fever. A laboratory in Lyon (France) confirmed the information,” Damantang Albert Camara said. He updated the death toll, which had previously stood at 29.
Medical aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said in a statement it would strengthen its team of 24 doctors, nurses, logisticians and experts in hygiene and sanitation already in Guinea.
MSF said it was sending around 33 tonnes of medicines and isolation, sanitation and protective equipment in two planes leaving from Belgium and France.
Overwhelmed by epidemic
Dr Sakoba Keita, Guinea's chief disease prevention officer, told AFP, "We are overwhelmed in the field, we are fighting against this epidemic with all the means we have at out disposal with the help of our partners, but it is difficult. But we will get there."
World Health Organisation officials said that cases showing similar symptoms, including fever, diarrhoea, vomiting and bleeding, had also been reported in an area of Sierra Leone near the border with Guinea.
A Sierra Leone health official said on Saturday that authorities there were running tests to determine if the cases were part of the epidemic in Guinea.
The highly contagious disease, which is transmitted between humans through contact with organs, blood, secretions, or other bodily fluids, is most commonly found in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and South Sudan.
To date, no treatment or vaccine is available for Ebola.
The French embassy in the Liberian capital Monrovia released a travel advisory warning French citizens against travel to the affected parts of Guinea or areas of northern Liberia near the border between the countries.
It said anyone who had to travel to southern Guinea should "strictly respect the hygiene rules, not consume the meat of animals killed by hunting and stay away from areas of high density of population like markets and football grounds".
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-03-22