News / Africa

Kenya Reports Suspected Ebola Fatality

Colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) reveals some of the form, structure of an Ebola virus (undated file image).
Colorized transmission electron micrograph (TEM) reveals some of the form, structure of an Ebola virus (undated file image).
Gabe Joselow

A woman in Kenya died Thursday of a suspected Ebola virus infection. Doctors are taking every possible precaution as they try to confirm the exact cause of death.

Gladys Muthoni, 29, died in a taxi as she was being rushed to Nairobi's Kenyatta National Hospital.

Doctor J. Masika Wafula says she had been bleeding from her mouth, nose and ears - characteristic symptoms of the Ebola virus, or hemorrhagic fever.

"Basically this is someone who works in a hotel and was perfectly okay until roughly this morning when she suddenly developed bleeding from various parts of the body," said Wafula. "And this was an extensive bleed, and we believe this is the reason why she died."

It took medical teams hours to remove the woman from the taxi for fear of possibly exposing more people to a deadly and highly contagious disease. Three people who accompanied the victim, including the taxi driver, have been quarantined at the hospital.

Wafula could not confirm that the woman had contracted Ebola but says the hospital was treating the case as a serious public health risk.

"And that's why we're taking these precautions, why we actually proceeded to isolate the persons who came with this particular patient who proceeded to die," he said. "And we are taking the precautions to take all the necessary samples from the body so that we can go to investigate to establish the cause of the bleeding."

The victim's sister, Rachel Wairimu, who rushed to the hospital after her father phoned her to say her sister had died, said she last spoke to her sister on Sunday when they discussed whether to travel home together for Christmas.

The last reported outbreak of Ebola in East Africa occurred in Uganda in May of this year, when a 12-year old girl became infected in central Luwero district.

Kenya imposed strict medical security measures along its border with Uganda following that outbreak.

The World Health Organization says Ebola, and its close cousin the Marburg virus, is spread via contact with infected blood. It can also be transmitted by handling dead animals.

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