An outbreak of Ebola and Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) is spreading in Guinea and causing panic amongst the locals. Nearly 80 people have died since the increase of confirmed cases was reported last month. The World Health Organization (WHO) is scrambling to get the outbreak under control.
Ebola is one of the most contagious viruses in the world. The virus is thought have originated in fruit bats and has since been spread to other mammals. Among humans, the virus is spread through bodily fluids like sweat, saliva or blood and can also be contracted through oral sex.
Of the five known strains of the Ebola virus, three have been associated with the large plagues of hemorrhagic fever on the continent of Africa. The Zaire strain is what’s popping up all over Guinea and has been deemed the most aggressive and deadly strain of them all. There is no cure or vaccine for this virus and 90 percent of the cases end in death.
This outbreak of Ebola in Guinea has caught the world’s attention. In an effort to help contain the outbreak, the neighboring country Senegal has closed its border to Guinea and travel restrictions are being implemented to those who appear to be sick with the disease. Hospital and airport employees have also been given protective clothing as a precaution. Senegal’s Minister of Health announced her plan to avoid the spread of Ebola calling for the set-up of a 24-hour crisis center.
The country of Guinea is facing a potential epidemic on a magnitude not seen before in relation to the cases and distribution of the disease. The deadly virus had originally been contained in four small towns around Guinea until recently when Guinea officials confirmed the virus had been spread to the country’s capital of Conakry.
The capital is home to more than 2 million people and the geographical spread of Conakry’s population will make containing the virus very difficult. 3.5 tons of protective material reached Conakry on March 30th, and has since been distributed by the WHO to various health facilities in different locations to treat the outbreak.
The World Health Organization has reported 125 cases across three countries in Africa, confirming that the virus is spreading. The organization has stated they are working diligently to get the virus under control, and cannot declare the outbreak is over unless no new cases have been confirmed for 21 days after the last patients are no longer showing any symptoms.
Informative materials are being distributed to the community to spread awareness about the diseases so there is less confusion about the symptoms or how the virus is spread. The World Health Organization has facilitated the set-up of a European laboratory and has deployed an infection control specialist — anthropologist, epidemiologist, and logistician — to Gueckedou; a town in the southern region of Guinea to ensure quality lab testing can be conducted since most of Africa is still a developing financially.
Despite attempts to assure the population that the virus will be kept under control mass paranoia about the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea persists, with some citizens limiting contact to the bare minimum.
There is no denying the virus is deadly, but according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) the deadliest outbreak was recorded in 1976. The outbreak in what was then Zaire killed 280 of 318 people that were infected.
Health By Sarah Wright