An Ebola epidemic that has killed dozens of people in Guinea's southern forests has spread to the capital Conakry, Guinea's health minister said Thursday, with four new cases confirmed.
Guinea's Health Minister Remy Lamah said they marked the first confirmed spread of the disease from rural areas to the West African state's capital.
He said the virus appeared to have been transmitted by an old man who showed symptoms of haemorrhagic fever after visiting Dinguiraye in central Guinea, far from the identified outbreaks of Ebola in the remote southeast.
Four of the man's brothers, who attended his funeral in the central town of Dabola, started to show the same symptoms and were tested for Ebola on their return to Conakry.
The patients were immediately put in isolation to avoid the highly contagious virus spreading further into the population.
The disease is transmitted by direct contact with blood, faeces or sweat, or by sexual contact or unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.
Between 1.5 and two million people are estimated to be living in Conakry, a vast, sprawling port city on Guinea's Atlantic coast.
The tropical virus leads to a haemorrhagic fever causing muscle pain, weakness, vomiting and diarrhoea and – in the most severe cases – organ failure and unstoppable bleeding.
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.
Authorities in the city identified three cases of haemorrhagic fever – two of them fatal – on Sunday but samples taken from the victims tested negative for Ebola.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP and REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-03-27