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Ebola has killed hundreds in W Africa – WHO
July 27, 2014, 9:58 pm

MSF medical volunteers deployed in Guinea earlier this year to help the government battle the ebola outbreak [MSF/AP]

MSF medical volunteers deployed in Guinea earlier this year to help the government battle the ebola outbreak [MSF/AP]

The spread of the deadly Ebola virus in West Africa has been unprecedented in speed and scope, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Saturday.

Doctors in West Africa reported this week that nearly 1,100 people had contracted the virus since March 2014, and that 660 of those had died.

There have been previous outbreaks of the virus, believed to have originated in bats, but none have spread so quickly across borders.

Ebola is an incurable disease with a very high fatality rate. Symptoms first include headaches, severe fever, throat and muscle pains. This is followed by vomiting and diarrhea. The virus spreads from animals to humans and infection can quickly spread through contact with bodily fluids – even sweat.

The current outbreak was first reported in Guinea in early 2014, but quickly spread to neighbouring countries Liberia and Sierra Leone.

“WHO continues to monitor the evolution of the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Guinea. Between 18 – 20 July 2014, 45 new cases and 28 deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. These include suspect, probable, and laboratory-confirmed cases,” WHO said in a statement published on its website.

Last month, the international medical charity group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) warned that the outbreak is likely to worsen.

“The epidemic is out of control,” said Dr Bart Janssens, MSF’s director of operations. “With the appearance of new sites in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, there is a real risk of it spreading to other areas.”

On Friday, Nigeria reported its first Ebola-related death – a Liberian man who had traveled to Lagos on a commercial airliner last week.

The fact that he easily boarded an international flight has raised alarms, and Nigerian officials now say they are screening passengers arriving from foreign countries for symptoms of Ebola.

Meanwhile, efforts to curb the virus in Sierra Leone were dealt a blow this week when the health ministry there said that a doctor and three nurses treating Ebola patients had themselves contracted the disease and died.

Source: Agencies

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