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4 Apr, 2014 10:29

Deadly Ebola virus spreads beyond Guinea borders, suspected in Mali

Deadly Ebola virus spreads beyond Guinea borders, suspected in Mali

Mali authorities have reported of three suspected cases of fatal Ebola virus. Liberia is now also believed to have witnessed the outbreak, which has killed at least 84people in Guinea and alarmed the world.

"Three suspected cases of hemorrhagic fever have been detected in the country. Samples have been taken and sent abroad for analysis," said Ousmane Kone, Health Minister of Mali, West Africa, according to AFP.

The samples of the virus were sent to scientists to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Now Mali authorities are waiting for the results, which will be made public as soon as they are known.

All three patients have been isolated and received appropriated medication. According to Mali’s government, the condition of the patients is improving.

Meanwhile, Liberia also reported about the first case of a deadly disease which has originated within its own borders and has no connections with the outbreak in Guinea, where it all started. The results of the sample testing are pending. However, if confirmed, the case in the eastern Liberian town of Tapeta would mark a worrying development in the fight against the deadly virus.

"We have a case in Tapeta where a hunter who has not had any contact with anyone coming from Guinea got sick… This an a isolated case." chief medical officer Bernice Dahn told AFP, adding that the man died 30 minutes after being rushed to the local hospital.

According to Dahn, seven new patients brought the total suspected Ebola cases in Liberia to 14.

The first outbreak of the fatal disease started in March in southeast Guinea, in West Africa. According to Guinea’s health authorities, the death toll from suspected cases of Ebola in the country hit 84. Overall 134 suspected Ebola cases were reported by the country.

A nurse of the 'Doctors without Borders' ('Medecin sans frontieres') medical aid organisation examines a patient in the in-take area at a center for victims of the Ebola virus in Guekedou, on April 1, 2014. (AFP Photo)

On March 28, the Guinean Health Ministry confirmed that the virus spread to its capital, Conakry, and the officials called it a “threat to regional security.”

World Health Organization (WHO) officials also reported of suspected cases showing similar symptoms in Sierra Leone, which borders Guinea on the northeast.

The neighboring countries to Guinea are now working to control the outbreak by imposing health and travel restrictions. On March 30, Senegal’s Interior Ministry has blocked the border with Guinea “until further notice” over the outbreak.

Meanwhile, the virus got mobile by making its way towards Canada. The Health Ministry in the country’s Saskatchewan province put a man and his entire family in quarantine after he exhibited disturbing symptoms upon arrival from Africa by plane.

This is the first fatal outbreak in West Africa. The disease hadn’t been endemic to Guinea as it mostly affects Congo in Central Africa and Uganda and Sudan in the east.

Ebola has claimed almost 1,600 lives since it was first observed in 1976 on the territory of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Fruit bats are considered to be the natural host of the Ebola virus. As there is no vaccine or treatment available, the Ebola virus kills from 25 to 90 percent of those who are infected.

Health workers, some of whom have been disinfected, stand at the entrance of the isolation ward for Ebola suspected patients at Bundibugyo hospital in Uganda December 11, 2007 (Reuters)

A highly-contagious illness, it can be transmitted to humans from wild animals, and between humans through direct contact with another's blood or sweat. Sexual contact, or the unprotected handling of contaminated corpses, can also lead to infection.

Its symptoms include severe fever, muscle pain, headaches, and sore throats, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, body rashes, and diminished kidney and liver function. Some Ebola patients suffer from internal and external bleeding.

International aid organizations have sent their employees to help Guinea battle the deadly virus.

At the end of March, the EU announced aid of 500,000 euro "to help to contain the propagation of the virus, which can kill up to 90 percent of affected people, in Guinea and neighboring countries," according to Dakar office of the EU’s humanitarian arm ECHO. The money will be used by the Doctors Without Borders (Medecins sans Frontieres) charity organization.