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Ebola outbreak in Guinea 'could become regional epidemic'

Plan Ireland has warned that the virus could spread to neighbouring countries of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

Image: NIAID via Flickr/Creative Commmons

THE LOCATION OF an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Guinea means it could spread across borders to become a regional epidemic, an aid agency has warned.

Plan Ireland is calling for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone to launch a co-ordinated response to the outbreak in the region.

Almost sixty deaths have been reported so far, the majority in Forest Guinea, close to the border with these neighbouring countries.

“Fear”

“Even though most people are going about their normal business, there is a strong fear of the disease in the communities,” Mamady Dramé, Plan’s programme unit manager in Macenta, Forest Guinea, said.

Local authorities are working with religious leaders in mosques and churches to provide information to people on preventive measures. It is critical that people receive clear and accurate information on what they can do to protect themselves.

Dramé noted that some people have left the area for Guinea’s capital, Conakry.

Fears that the virus had spread to the capital were dismissed this morning.

Samples taken from three suspected cases of Ebola, which led to two deaths in the capital Conakry, had tested negative for the virus.

A Health Minister official said the Pasteur Institute was still working on identifying the virus behind the fever cases in the capital and would know more “in the coming hours”.

Virulent

Ebola, one of the world’s most virulent diseases, was first discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1976 and the country has had eight outbreaks.

The most recent epidemic, also in the DRC, infected 62 people and left 34 dead between May and November 2012, according to the country’s health ministry.

There are fears it could be used in a biological weapons attack.

According to researchers, the virus multiplies quickly, overwhelming the immune system’s ability to fight the infection, and there is no treatment or vaccine available.

Additional reporting © AFP, 2014

Previously: Ebola confirmed as source of Guinea epidemic >

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Nicky Ryan

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