Wednesday, April 2, 2014
I write today about an outbreak of Ebola in Guinea. The Canadian Press is reporting today that at least 70 people have died since last week.
The Ebola virus causes severe hemorrhagic fever in patients, in some cases leading to grisly deaths as patients bleed both internally and externally. Its initial symptoms — high fever, headache and weakness — can mimic malaria.
Joseph Gbaka Sandouno, a program unit manager with Plan International in the village of Gueckedou, said it’s been especially difficult for people to stay calm after having witnessed “frightening scenes where people have died with severe bleeding.”
Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world. The disease first appeared in a remote corner of southern Guinea and has spread to Conakry, the seaside capitol with a population of 2 million people. Most of them live in slums without sanitation and access to clean water. Medical care is generally not available. Now that the disease has appeared in the capitol, health officials are concerned that it may spread rapidly throughout the slums killing many people.
Conakry is a port city with an international airport and it may be difficult to prevent the disease from spreading beyond Guinea’s borders. There is no cure for Ebola and this particular strain of the virus has up to a 90% fatality rate.
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