News / Health

Health Officials Scramble to Contain Guinea Ebola Outbreak

Workers from Doctors Without Borders unload emergency medical supplies to deal with an Ebola outbreak in Conakry, Guinea, March 23, 2014.
Workers from Doctors Without Borders unload emergency medical supplies to deal with an Ebola outbreak in Conakry, Guinea, March 23, 2014.
Jennifer Lazuta
— At least 59 people have died following an outbreak of the Ebola virus in Guinea, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Health officials are taking steps to contain the outbreak, including educating the public about ways to keep the virus from spreading.  

Guinea’s Ministry of Health says there have been at least 86 suspected cases of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in the country’s southeastern forest region since Feb. 9.

Liberia’s Ministry of Health says five people, who crossed the border from affected areas in Guinea into Lofa County for treatment, are believed to have died from Ebola.

Health officials are also investigating suspected cases in Sierra Leone.

Plan International is a non-profit that promotes children's development. The group's regional director of disaster risk management is in Conakry to work on containment efforts.  

“People are scared. They are rightly scared, but so far, we are not seeing a mass movement of people leaving the area," said Roland Berehoudougou. "The key thing in the area is there is a lack of information. So now we are supporting the government, the minister of health, in providing mass communication - using the TV, local radio and also SMS - to inform people about the situation and also prevention measures they should take to protect themselves against the virus.”

Berehoudougou says schools are of particular concern because children come into such close contact with one another.

The WHO says Ebola is one of the most contagious viral diseases. It is spread through contact with the bodily fluids, such as sweat, blood and saliva, of an infected person or animal.

There is no vaccine or cure. Symptoms usually start with fever, headache, vomiting and diarrhea. Some people experience bleeding through the eyes, ears, nose or mouth.  

The most recent outbreaks occurred in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2012. Fifty-seven people died. In 2007, Ebola killed 187 people during an outbreak in the DRC.

The director of the WHO's Disease Prevention and Control Unit in Africa worked on such outbreaks.

“What we did, working with the health workers, we instituted strong infection prevention measures, which included the proper disposal of materials that may be soiled with bodily fluids, proper disposal of the corpse or the body of persons that have died from potentially suspected Ebola cases,” said Dr. Francis Kasolo.

He said the length of time to contain an outbreak can vary, but the sooner you start, the better.

This is the first human Ebola outbreak in Guinea and in West Africa.  Kasolo said this made it harder to identify the virus as Ebola.  Ebola causes viral hemorrhagic fever, but so do several other illnesses common to the region, including lassa fever.

Kasolo said health workers in Guinea just are not as familiar with the disease.

“Our own thinking is that the alert level amongst the health workers and the community is not as high as, for instance, in Uganda and DRC, where Ebola occurs mostly every second or third year," he said. "So it’s a question of people reporting a suspicious or unusual illness, but because they are not familiar with that, it does take a little while for them to ... finally think of Ebola.”

Aid organizations are now supplying protective gear to health workers, as well as other medical supplies and medications to ease the symptoms of infected people.

Doctors Without Borders has set up isolation units in southern Guinea to treat suspected cases.

The ministries of health in Guinea and Liberia say public information campaigns are underway to educate people about the symptoms of Ebola and the modes of transmission.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid