News / Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Sparks Fears in West Africa

In this photo taken on March 29, 2014, medical personnel at the emergency entrance of a hospital receive suspected Ebola virus patients in Conakry, Guinea.
In this photo taken on March 29, 2014, medical personnel at the emergency entrance of a hospital receive suspected Ebola virus patients in Conakry, Guinea.
Jennifer Lazuta
West Africans are growing more apprehensive as the region's first-ever Ebola outbreak spreads.  Guinea's president and other leaders are urging people to remain calm, but people across the region say they are scared. 

The outbreak that began in Guinea’s southeastern forest region last month is causing widespread fear as the death toll rises and the outbreak spreads.

Leaders throughout the region have said that there is no reason to panic, but people say they are becoming increasingly worried.

"I’m afraid," admitted Steve Doe, a resident of Liberia's capital, Monrovia. "I mean the way it attacks one, you know, and the way it kills.  I’m afraid that the outbreak will be known in Liberia - or anywhere for that matter.  We are all human beings, so yes, I’m afraid."

Guinea's Ministry of Health says more than 70 people have died since the first suspected case was treated on February 9.  More than 125 people across three countries are now believed to have been affected by the highly contagious virus.

The health ministry confirmed last week that the virus had made its way to the capital, Conakry.  Aid organizations say this is a worrying development, as the city is densely populated and many people lack access to water and good sanitation.

In Liberia, at least two people have tested positive for Ebola.  Sierra Leone has also reported suspected cases of the virus.

On Saturday, Senegal closed the land border it shares with Guinea in the southeast of the country as a preventative measure.

Papa Konaté, who lives in Dakar, said he is scared that this may not be enough, adding that Ebola is a disease that can affect anyone. "So of course we are afraid," he said.  "We pass people on the streets and then we enter into our homes -- and you see, here in Dakar, there are many Guineans everywhere." Konaté says there are many Guineans who come and go, who leave and come back without a problem.  "It’s risky," he added.

According to health officials, the Ebola cases that were found in Liberia can be traced back to individuals who recently traveled to Guinea.

There is no vaccine against Ebola and no medication to cure the virus, which is spread through close contact with bodily fluids, such as sweat, blood or saliva, of an infected person or animal.

Doctors say the only way to contain the outbreak is to stop further infections.

Monrovian resident Ameago Sekou Kamara said he and his family have begun taking precautions to avoid contracting the Ebola virus.

"Ebola is a deadly we are following all the measures we have been given by the Ministry of Health and Social welfare," Kamara explained, "like preventing handshakes, stop eating bush meat and avoid coming to where there is information that there is an outbreak.  Even if a family member that is very close to you has it, you should not get associated with the person until you have medical advice."

West African authorities and aid organizations say they are taking all possible measures to contain the outbreak.  They urge people to act wisely and follow preventative measures.

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Comment Sorting
by: Rena from: USA
April 09, 2014 1:25 AM

Pig farms in Africa.. are located along this side of Africa where the outbreak is. Pigs carry the virus so I have read.

by: Rena from: USA
April 09, 2014 1:19 AM
Pigs supposedly can carry the virus. I wonder what trees or tree sap has to do with the virus. Can you test tree sap to see if it has the virus?

by: Lucille Munro from: Ottawa. ON. Canada
April 05, 2014 2:21 PM
Who are you?

by: Carol Tarens from: Paradise
April 05, 2014 1:45 PM
Does anyone relate this to, a form of terrorism? Americans coming home?, or animals being used as weapons?,.Transporting Animals?, for trade to the rest of the world?, and how many people do YOU know who have already left West Africa before known outbreak?. Is this type of virus an outbreak in the U.N. States?, as of now?. These are things I have hope that someone has considered also, that may have the status to do something about. Thank You, for letting me text my thoughts.

by: Mayqueen Ukpabi from: Abia State Nigeria
April 01, 2014 3:32 AM
This Virus seem more deadly than HIV AIDS. De Minister of health should help families by conducting a house to house TEST to knw de carriers an keep dem in one hospital.

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