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As 6 suspected cases, 5 deaths reported in Sierra Leone…

EU commits €500,000 to stop spread of Ebola

Following the recent outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, the European Union is providing €500,000 to help contain the spread of the deadly virus in Guinea and neighbouring countries, and has sent a health expert to Guinea to assess the situation and liaise with the local authorities.

“We are deeply concerned about the spread of this virulent disease and our support will help ensure immediate health assistance to those affected by it,” said Kristalina Georgieva, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response. “It’s vital that we act swiftly to prevent the outbreak from spreading, particularly to neighbouring countries.”

The funding will be used by Médecins Sans Frontières for clinical management, including the isolation of patients and psychosocial support, the tracing of suspected cases as well as the training and supply of personal protective equipment for health workers. There will also be community-based awareness raising initiatives so as to help diminish the risk of the further spread of the virus.

The EU is following closely how the situation develops with its Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). It is also working with international partners, notably the World Health Organization (WHO), to track the outbreak.

Background

This is the first Ebola virus outbreak registered in the region. To date, 103 suspected and confirmed cases and 66 deaths have been reported in Guinea, eight suspected cases in Liberia including six deaths, as well as six suspected cases in Sierra Leone, including five deaths. Investigations on these are under way.

First discovered in DR Congo and Sudan in 1976, several outbreaks of this viral haemorrhagic fever have been reported in East and Central Africa, but not in West Africa.

On 22 March 2014 the Guinean Government revealed that Institut Pasteur in France had identified the Ebola filovirus in samples of cases initially associated with Lassa fever.

Highly contagious, human to human transmission of Ebola occurs by simple contact with blood and body fluids. No vaccine or treatment is yet available for this pathogen, one of the world’s most lethal with a case fatality rate of up to 90% depending on the strain.