Ebola outbreak spreads to Liberia after killing 70 in Guinea.
(Cynthia Goldsmith / CDC)
The World Health Organization has confirmed that an outbreak of the ebola virus that has killed 70 people in Guinea has spread to Liberia. Two cases of the disease have been reported in the country, and Reuters says that another 11 deaths in Liberia and Sierra Leone — both of which share borders with Guinea — are suspected to be linked to ebola.
The WHO took seven samples from the Foya district of Liberia, a region less than 12 miles (20 kilometers) from the border with Guinea. The organization said two of those samples tested positive for the ebola virus. The outbreak in Guinea was first reported on March 23rd, when the WHO and Guinea’s Ministry of Health acknowledged fatal cases of the ebola virus in south-eastern areas of the country. The disease then spread to Guinea’s capital, Conakry, with four suspected cases of the virus confirmed by laboratory analysis. Guinea’s Ministry of Health claimed a fatality rate of 63 percent, with 70 deaths from 111 cases of hemorrhagic fever. Ebola appears to have made its way into Liberia more than a week ago: the WHO said that a 35-year-old woman who died on March 21st tested positive for the virus.
11 deaths in Sierra Leone and Liberia are suspected to be linked to Ebola
Guinea’s neighbors have reacted to quell the spread of the disease. Reuters reports Senegal closed its land border with Guinea on Saturday, and halted the operation of weekly markets in the area. Senegal has also implemented sanitary checks on flights between its capital Dakar and Conakry, while West African airline Gambia Bird has delayed the launch of a new route to Guinea’s capital.
Ebola is spread primarily through contact with infected bodily fluids. It’s a highly contagious and regularly lethal disease — 68 percent of all recorded cases in the past have been fatal — that has killed more than 1,500 people since its first recorded transferal to humans in 1976. The confirmed cases in Guinea and Liberia are particularly notable because they are the first to be recorded in the west of the continent — prior to this outbreak, every known case of fatal Ebola infection (excluding laboratory accidents) took place in south and central Africa. Should the outbreak continue to gather pace, it could stretch West African health providers to the limit.
Liberian health authorities confirm two cases of Ebola: WHO
By Alphonso Toweh
(Reuters) – The World Health Organisation (WHO) said on Sunday that Liberia has confirmed two cases of the deadly Ebola virus that is suspected to have killed at least 70 people in Guinea.
The outbreak of the highly contagious Ebola, which in its more acute phase, causes vomiting, diarrhoea and external bleeding, has sent Guinea’s West African neighbors scrambling to contain the spread of the disease.
Eleven deaths in towns in northern Sierra Leone and Liberia, which shares borders with southeastern Guinea where the outbreak was first reported, are suspected to be linked to Ebola.
WHO said that as of March 29, seven clinical samples from adult patients from Foya district in Liberia were tested.
“Two of those samples have tested positive for the ebolavirus,” the global health organization said in the statement on its website on Sunday, confirming for the first time the cases in country.
“There have been 2 deaths among the suspected cases; a 35 year old woman who died on 21 March tested positive for ebolavirus while a male patient who died on 27 March tested negative,” it said.
An official of Liberia’s health ministry who requested anonymity said the government was aware and would issue a statement on Monday.
The suspected spread of disease into Liberia and Sierra Leone has stirred concern that one of the most lethal infectious diseases known to man could spread in a poor corner of West Africa, where health systems are ill-equipped to cope.
Authorities in Guinea’s northwestern neighbor Senegal closed its land border on Saturday and suspended weekly markets near the borders where fresh produce from Guinea were sold in order to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus.
Sanitary checks have also been introduced on flights between Dakar and the Guinean capital Conakry. Regional airline Gambia Bird has also announced that it will delay the launch of services to Conakry, due to start on Sunday, because of the outbreak.
The World Health Organisation said in the statement it does not recommend any travel or trade restrictions be applied to Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone based on the current information available about the outbreak.
Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people since it was first recorded in 1976 in what is now Democratic Republic of Congo, but this is the first fatal outbreak in West Africa.
More Facts about Ebola Virus