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Suspected Ebola cases in Austria, new drug raises hopes

© Carl De Souza, AFP I A health worker examines this girl for signs of Ebola in Sierra Leone.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-08-20

Two men suspected of carrying the deadly Ebola virus have been hospitalised and quarantined in Austria, a regional governor said on Tuesday. Elsewhere, doctors are reporting positive signs from an experimental Ebola drug called ZMapp.

The men, who developed a fever following a visit to Nigeria, have been isolated and are being treated at a hospital in the northern Austrian city of Voecklabruck, Josef Puehringer, the governor of Upper Austria province, said.

Puehringer said blood samples have been sent to a laboratory in Germany, adding that the results are expected later Tuesday,

Meanwhile, doctors said that three Liberian health workers who have been given the last known doses of the experimental Ebola drug, ZMapp, are showing signs of recovery.

The drug has earlier been given to two infected Americans and a Spaniard. The Americans are also improving, but the Spaniard died.

“The medical professionals have informed the Liberian information ministry their progress is ‘remarkable,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that the patients are showing “very positive signs of recovery”.

Experts have said it is unclear if ZMapp, which had never before been tested in humans, is effective. Even if it is, the California-based maker has said more supplies won’t be available for months.

In the meantime, experts say the best way to stop the spread of Ebola in West Africa is to identify the sick, isolate them from the healthy and monitor everyone with whom they have been in contact.

More than 1,200 people have died of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in the current outbreak, and more than 2,200 are sick, the World Health Organisation said on Tuesday.

West Africa struggling to isolate those infected

Authorities have struggled to treat and isolate the sick, in part because of widespread fear that treatment centres are places where people go to die. Many sick people have hidden in their homes, relatives have sometimes taken their loved ones away from health centres, and mobs have occasionally attacked health workers.

On Saturday, residents of the West Point township in Liberia’s capital of Monrovia attacked a centre where people were being monitored for Ebola. The raid was triggered by fears that people with the disease were being brought there from all over the country, the Information Ministry said Tuesday.

During the raid, dozens of people waiting to be screened for Ebola fled the centre. Looters made off with items, including bloody sheets and mattresses that could spread the infection.

All the patients who fled are now being screened at a hospital in Monrovia, and those who tested positive are being treated, the ministry said. It was unclear how many of the 37 who fled actually had Ebola.

(FRANCE 24 with AP and AFP)

Date created : 2014-08-19

  • WEST AFRICA

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  • LIBERIA

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  • KENYA

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