The recent Ebola disease outbreak in West Africa proves to be a stubborn public health problem as health authorities confirm two new deaths in Guinea and Sierra Leone.
West Africa is not known for Ebola outbreaks. Nations in this region are struggling to contain their first ever outbreak of the viral disease that originated in central and eastern African nations. The announcement this week of two new fatalities caused by Ebola disease plus several more deaths suspected from Ebola marked a grim setback in the effort to control the spread of the deadly virus. Worse yet is the fact that the two new deaths are distant from the origin site of the outbreak.
Health officials in Guinea said Monday that at least one fatality was recorded in Telimele, some 167 miles from where the outbreak began. They suspect as many as eight deaths may be attributed to Ebola and that 86 people who may have been exposed to the Ebola virus are under observation. Additional deaths at the epicenter of the outbreak, Macenta, and in Telimele are under investigation for an Ebola cause.
The Ebola death toll for Guinea is highest and accounts for most of the 170 total confirmed Ebola deaths. A few deaths have been reported in Liberia as well. The death reported on Monday in Sierra Leone is the first confirmed case in this nation and occurred near its border with Guinea, according to Dr. Amara Jambai, Director of Guinea’s Disease Prevention and Control. Over 10 other deaths in the same region are under investigation and may turn out to have been caused by Ebola.
Ebola virus disease, also called Ebola hemorrhagic fever, is a deadly viral infection that causes high fever and severe bleeding. Exposure occurs from contact with infected blood or bodily fluids of monkeys or fruit bats as well as those of infected humans. Ebola exhibits an incubation period of up to 21 days before symptoms appear.
Those who survive Ebola disease may transmit the virus for up to two months after symptoms disappear. There is no vaccine or cure for Ebola.