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59 reported dead in ‘Ebola’ outbreak in Guinea:

- Health Ministry yet to provide prevention information on mysterious disease

By Alusine Sesay

SERIOUS CONCERN ... Minister of Health, Ms. Miatta Kargbo

SERIOUS CONCERN … Minister of Health, Ms. Miatta Kargbo

Director of Disease Prevention and Control at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Dr. Amara Jambai, yesterday informed anxious Sierra Leoneans that the ministry has not documented any case of the dreaded Ebola virus in the country.

But curiously, Dr. Jambai failed to provide the public with information on how to prevent contracting the deadly virus, which is highly contagious.

However, he said the ministry would hold a meeting with development partners in the health sector to decide on preventive mechanisms and to agree on how to respond to an imminent crisis.

The mysterious outbreak of hemorrhagic fever has reportedly killed at least 59 people in south eastern Guinea and the capital Conakry, and it was suspected that the disease may have been brought into Sierra Leone by a 14-year-old boy.

Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo, was quoted by Reuters to have said that authorities were investigating the case of a 14-year-old boy who had died in Buedu, Kailahun District, eastern Sierra Leone.

The boy, the report said, had travelled to Guinea to attend the funeral of one of the outbreak’s earlier victims.

Dr. Kargbo said a medical team had been sent to Buedu to test those who came into contact with the boy before his death.

While speaking on the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC) television, Dr. Amara Jambai said that other than Lassa fever, Sierra Leone has no drug to cure Ebola and that the 14-year-old boy suspected to have been infected with the virus returned to neighbouring Guinea, where he eventually died.

“Our medical team has moved round the country and there is no suspected case of a mysterious disease,” he said.

He continued that the World Health Organization was yet to impose a travel restriction from Guinea to Sierra Leone or vice visa.

Ebola and Marburg fever are deadly diseases caused by similar viruses that are among the most virulent pathogens known to infect humans, according to the World Health Organisation.

The symptoms of Ebola range from flu-like pains to internal and external bleeding caused by kidney and liver failures.

Unlike the two deadly diseases, Lassa fever is endemic in West Africa, with humans contracting it from contact with food or household items contaminated with the faeces of a long-mouthed rat. The disease can then be transmitted from person to person.

Authorities in Guinea late last night confirmed that the cause of death was not as a result of the Ebola virus but remained quiet as to the actual cause.

International medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), is reported to have reinforced their presence in the country, while Senegal is reported to have deployed a medical team on its borders with Guinea to screen persons travelling from that country.