Added by Erik West on March 25, 2014
An outbreak of Ebola in the western African country of Guinea has killed 59 people, or 74% of those affected. The outbreak was initially not confirmed to be Ebola yet 50% of samples sent to a laboratory in France confirmed the underlying disease.
Health officials say the outbreak may have spread to neighboring Sierra Leone and a man in Canada, recently returned from Liberia, is in isolation after he developed symptoms that could be consistent with Ebola, known more generally as hemorrhagic fever.
In Guinea, the virus is prevalent in and around its capital city Conakry – the outbreak of the then unidentified disease was first reported on February 9. This is the first outbreak of Ebola in Guinea.
The head of Guinea’s health ministry said the organization Doctors Without Borders delivered medications and isolation supplies to the region and have reinforced its medical teams there. Healthcare workers are at the highest risk of contracting the highly contagious disease.
In Canada, a man that recently returned from Liberia, which borders Guinea, is in isolation and in critical condition after he developed symptoms of hemorrhagic fever – not yet confirmed to be Ebola. Canadian health officials say there is no risk to the public.
In Sierra Leone health officials are investigating a case of possible Ebola in a 14-year old boy that died while showing signs of the disease after he had attended a funeral in Guinea.
Ebola, first reported in 1979 is highly contagious with mortality rates of up to 90%; however the average mortality across all known cases is about 68%. Transmission is through close contact with bodily fluids including blood and secretions; those caring for the ill are often infected. In 2012 Canadian scientists discovered the deadliest form of the disease could be transmitted through the air and between species leading to concerns that airborne transmission could be a major contributing factor in the spread of the disease in parts of Africa.
Ebola-like infections are characterized by the onset of influenza symptoms followed by bleeding from the mouth, nose, and other mucous membranes. Although there is no known treatment for Ebola, research into the use a combination of some drugs appears to be promising. The current treatment strategy is supportive care that includes management of dehydration, maintenance of oxygen levels, and treatment of secondary infections using antibiotics.
© 2014, ↑ The Australian Eye News