Medical professionals are working hard to contain the Guinea Ebola outbreak as it has reportedly claimed up to 59 lives.
"The Ebola fever epidemic raging in southern Guinea, including the prefectures of Gueckedou and Macenta, since February 9 has left at least 59 dead out of 80 cases identified by our services on the ground," said Sakoba Keita, the ministry's chief disease prevention officer, adding:
"We are overwhelmed in the field, we are fighting against this epidemic with all the means we have at our disposal with the help of our partners but it is difficult. But we will get there.”
Among such assistance Guinea has includes that of medical charity groups like Doctors Without Borders. They have already flown in about 33 metric tons worth of medical supplies and constructed quarantine areas in which patients can be safely treated without spreading the illness.
“These structures are essential to prevent the spread of the disease, which is highly contagious,” explained Dr. Esther Sterkof of Doctors Without Borders, adding, “Specialized staff are providing care to patients showing signs of infection.”
Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is the human disease characterized by diarrhea, vomiting, and fever in its earlier stages. As it affects multiple organ systems in the body, it has up to a 90% fatality rate for those infected. Prior to Saturday’s lab results, it was not officially determined whether the series of cases arising in the country since February 9th were actually Ebola. However, Health Minister Remy Lamah stated this weekend that initial tests confirmed the presence of a viral hemorrhagic fever.
The transmission of the virus is spread by contact with bodily fluid, blood, or tissue. This could mean anything from sexual transmission to mere proximity of a sneezing infected individual.
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Given the easy route of transmission, some concerns arose when a Sierra Leone boy became ill and passed away after attending a funeral in Guinea of a deceased victim of the disease.The chief medical officer investigating the case, Dr. Brima Kargbo, said a medical team was investigating his death and seeking out anyone the boy could have contacted after contracting the virus.
As it stands, there is no cure or vaccine for Ebola.
“Several potential vaccines are being tested but it could be several years before any is available,” the World Health Organization has explained. They add, however: “A new drug therapy has shown some promise in laboratory studies and is currently being evaluated.”
In times of such tragic havoc, the presence and efforts of international humanitarian organizations are of great importance. By Saturday, they had 24 doctors, nurses, logisticians and experts in hygiene and sanitation flown into Guinea. They have been setting up isolation units in three affected Guinea towns and are continuing to fortify their teams as they provide ongoing aid.
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