The Ebola outbreak in Guinea, which has killed 59 people since February 9, has already spread to the neighboring West Africa country of Liberia, health officials battling the deadly epidemic now fear.
In France, researchers testing samples from Guinea Ebola victims say they have identified the strain of the virus as the “Zaire strain.” That is extremely bad news, as the Zaire strain is considered the deadliest of the five known Ebola strains.
“Detection of Zaire Ebola virus raises the already high level of concern for this event,” said a statement issued by the Lyon-based Pasteur Institute where the samples were examined.
Possibly More Than The 59 Reported Deaths In Guinea
In Guinea, the government said that the number of reported deaths may be low, but that contrary to earlier reports, the Ebola outbreak had not yet hit the country’s swarming capital city of Conkary.
“The three cases, which were registered in Conakry, have no link with Ebola,” said Guinea government spokesperson Albert Damantang Camara. “The outbreak of the disease may be heavier than 59 but the Health Ministry will release a statement on the disease soon.”
Guinea Capital, Home To 3 Million, Considered In Danger
Nonetheless, health workers and the government there are making frantic efforts to keep the Ebola virus out of the capital, teeming home to more than 3 million, where an outbreak could easily overwhelm the meager health resources available in the impoverished country — as well as cause a panic among residents there which would only strain those resources further.
The inventory of cleaning supplies such as chlorine and bleach are already running low at Conkary stores, as the government issues warnings for citizens to keep their homes and hands clean and avoid contact with anyone who might be carrying the Ebola virus.
Five Deaths In Liberia Now Under Investigation
A group of possibly infected people recently crossed the border from Guinea into Liberia seeking treatment. Five of them have died and Liberian health officials are now trying to figure out if the deaths are part of the Guinea Ebola outbreak.
“The team is already investigating the situation, tracing contacts, collecting blood samples and sensitizing local health authorities on the disease,” Liberian Health Minister Walter Gwenigale told The Associated Press.
“Communities in the affected region stretch across the borders and people move freely within this area,” added Ibrahima Toure, director of the aid group Plan International in Guinea. “This poses a serious risk of the epidemic becoming widespread with devastating consequences.”
Ebola is one of the deadliest viruses known on Earth. The disease it causes, Ebola Hemmorhagic Fever, results in severe internal and external bleeding, organ failure, extreme diarrhea and vomiting and crippling muscle pains. The disease has no vaccine or cure, and kills 90 percent of people who contract the Ebola virus.
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