Ebola outbreak in Guinea an 'unprecedented epidemic', MSF says (Update)

March 31, 2014

Aid organisation Doctors Without Borders said Monday an Ebola outbreak suspected of killing at least 78 people in Guinea was an "unprecedented epidemic" that had spread across the west African nation.

"We are facing an epidemic of a magnitude never before seen in terms of the distribution of cases in the country: Gueckedou, Macenta, Kissidougou, Nzerekore, and now Conakry," Mariano Lugli, the organisation's coordinator in the Guinean capital, said in a statement.

The group known by its initials in French MSF said by the end of the week it would have around 60 international field workers with experience in working on haemorrhagic fever divided between Conakry and the south-east of the country.

Its team includes doctors, nurses, epidemiologists, water and sanitation experts as well as anthropologists.

"MSF has intervened in almost all reported Ebola outbreaks in recent years, but they were much more geographically contained and involved more remote locations," Lugli said.

"This geographical spread is worrisome because it will greatly complicate the tasks of the organisations working to control the epidemic."

MSF said it had stepped up support for the isolation of patients in Conakry, in collaboration with the Guinean health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO).

"Other patients in other health structures are still hospitalised in non-optimal conditions and isolation must be reinforced in the coming days," MSF said.

"In Guinea, it is the Zaire strain of Ebola virus. This is the most aggressive and deadly. It kills more than nine out of 10 patients," MSF epidemiologist Michel Van Herp, who is in southern Guinea, was quoted as saying.

Guinean health authorities have recorded 122 suspected patients and 78 deaths.

The WHO said in a statement released on Sunday Liberia had detected two Ebola cases among seven samples tested from the northern Foya district, which shares a border with southern Guinea.

"Two of those samples have tested positive for the Ebola virus. There have been two deaths among the suspected cases, a 35-year-old woman who died on March 21 tested positive for Ebola virus while a male patient who died on March 27 tested negative," it said.

Ebola has killed almost 1,600 people since it was first observed in 1976 in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo but this is the first fatal outbreak in west Africa.

The tropical virus leads to haemorrhagic fever, causing muscle pain, weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea and, in severe cases, organ failure and unstoppable bleeding.

The WHO said Sierra Leone has also identified two suspected cases, both of whom died, but neither has been confirmed to be Ebola.

No treatment or vaccine is available for Ebola, and the Zaire strain detected in Guinea has a historic death rate of up to 90 percent.

It can be transmitted to humans from wild animals, and between humans through direct contact with another's blood, faeces or sweat, as well as sexual contact or the unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.

The WHO said it was not recommending travel or trade restrictions to Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone based on the current information available about the outbreak.

But Senegal has closed border crossings to Guinea "until further notice".

Explore further: Ebola epidemic spreads to Guinea's capital: UNICEF

Related Stories

Ebola epidemic spreads to Guinea's capital: UNICEF

March 23, 2014
An Ebola epidemic which has already killed dozens of people in Guinea's southern forests has spread to the capital Conakry, the United Nations Children's Fund said on Sunday.

Guinea scrambles to contain deadly Ebola outbreak (Update)

March 24, 2014
Aid workers and health officials battled Monday to contain west Africa's first outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus as tests on suspected cases in Conakry allayed fears that it had spread to the Guinean capital.

Guinea battles to contain Ebola as Senegal closes its border (Update)

March 29, 2014
Guinea raced Saturday to contain a deadly Ebola epidemic spreading from its southern forests to the capital Conakry, as neighbouring Senegal closed its border.

Four Ebola cases confirmed in Guinea's capital

March 27, 2014
An Ebola epidemic which has killed dozens of people in Guinea's southern forests has spread to the capital Conakry, health sources said on Thursday, confirming four new cases.

Guinea battles to contain Ebola as death toll rises

March 31, 2014
Guinea's President Alpha Conde warned Sunday of a "health emergency" as authorities raced to contain a spiralling Ebola epidemic which has killed 78 people and prompted neighbouring Senegal to close its border.

Ebola 'a regional threat' as contagion hits Guinea capital (Update)

March 28, 2014
Guinea's capital Conakry was on high alert on Friday after a deadly Ebola epidemic which has killed dozens in the southern forests was confirmed to have spread to the sprawling port city of two million people.

Recommended for you

Past encounters with the flu shape vaccine response

February 20, 2018
New research on why the influenza vaccine was only modestly effective in recent years shows that immune history with the flu influences a person's response to the vaccine.

Building better tiny kidneys to test drugs and help people avoid dialysis

February 16, 2018
A free online kidney atlas built by USC researchers empowers stem cell scientists everywhere to generate more human-like tiny kidneys for testing new drugs and creating renal replacement therapies.

Expanding Hepatitis C testing to all adults is cost-effective and improves outcomes

February 16, 2018
According to a new study, screening all adults for hepatitis C (HCV) is a cost-effective way to improve clinical outcomes of HCV and identify more infected people compared to current recommendations. Using a simulation model, ...

Study suggests expanded range for emerging tick-borne disease

February 16, 2018
Human cases of Borrelia miyamotoi, a tick-borne infection with some similarities to Lyme disease, were discovered in the eastern United States less than a decade ago. Now new research led by the Yale School of Public Health ...

IFN-mediated immunity to influenza A virus infection influenced by RIPK3 protein

February 15, 2018
Each year, influenza kills half a million people globally with the elderly and very young most often the victims. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 37 children have died in the United States ...

Flu shot only 36 percent effective, making bad year worse (Update)

February 15, 2018
The flu vaccine is doing a poor job protecting older Americans and others against the bug that's causing most illnesses.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.