Tuesday, April 1, 2014

MSF: Guinea Ebola ‘Unprecedented Epidemic’

Ebola virus virion. Created by CDC microbiologist Cynthia Goldsmith, this colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) revealed some of the ultrastructural morphology displayed by an Ebola virus virion. (Photo taken from Wikipedia)
The medical charity Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières, MSF) has announced on Monday it is facing an unprecedented epidemic in terms of the distribution of [Ebola] cases now scattered in several locations in Guinea.

MSF announcement followed eight confirmed cases of Ebola reported in the capital Conakry.  78 people have been confirmed death already as a result of the disease.

“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,” says Mariano Lugli, coordinator of MSF’s project in Conakry.

The multinational medical charity has announced it is sending around sixty international field workers to Guinea by the end of the week.

Last week, the World Health Organisation, WHO, said there were six suspected cases and five deaths in neighbouring Liberia.

MSF says it will have around 60 international staff on the ground in Guinea to respond to the Ebola epidemic by week-end. (Photo: Kjell Gunnar Beraas/MSF)
‘Most aggressive virus’

Michel Van Herp, an MSF epidemiologist currently in Guekedou, said “In Guinea, it is the Zaire strain of Ebola virus. This is the most aggressive and deadly. It kills more than 9 out of 10 patients.”

“To stop the outbreak, it is important to trace the chain of transmission. All contacts of patients likely to have been contaminated should be monitored and isolated at the first sign of infection,” Van Herp said.

Health authorities in the capital Conakry said they have recorded 122 suspected patients and 78 deaths. Other cases, suspected or diagnosed, were found in Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Van Herp added: “It is important that the Guinean authorities and the WHO help medical facilities put in place all necessary hygiene measures.”

Neighbours on high alert

In The Gambia, health authorities have said “all suspected cases should be reported to the nearest health facility. The disease is serious and contagious.”

While health authorities in the tiny West African country assured the general public that there should be no cause for alarm, scientists have admitted there is no vaccine or treatment against the Ebola disease.

On March 23, the Government of The Gambia said “all the required logistics and manpower are readily available to deal with the situation in case of any suspected or confirmed case of the disease [Ebola]” in the country.

Modou Njai, director of health promotion and education, said the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare is fully aware of the situation and is closely monitoring the outbreak of Ebola virus in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Scientists say Ebola is spread by close contact and kills between 25% and 90% of victims. Its signs and symptoms include fever, chills, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weakness, bleeding from the nose, mouth, anus and vagina.

A version of this story first appeared on FPI, click HERE

Written by Modou S. Joof

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