Ebola Virus: Fears Mount as Mob Attacks Aid Workers

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Recent media coverage seems to be focusing on the missing MH370 plane, but reports coming out of Ebola-stricken Guinea are becoming very disconcerting.

Fear, anger and uncertainty led a mob to attack international aid workers struggling to contain a deadly outbreak of the Ebola virus Saturday in Guinea.

Doctors without Borders — which goes by its French initials MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières) — suspended treatment in the southeastern town of Macenta Friday after crowds attacked one of its centers.

Sam Taylor, a spokesman for MSF, said no one was seriously injured when rocks were thrown at workers.

"We understand very well that people are afraid because it is a new disease here," Taylor said. "But these are not favorable working conditions so we are suspending our activities."

Conakry officials said the attack occurred following rumors that the virus was "imported into Guinea or that Ebola fever does not exist in our country."

According to reports, 137 suspected or confirmed Ebola cases have been recorded since the beginning of the year leading to 86 deaths so far.

MSF said the outbreak is an "unprecedented epidemic" and warns that it is struggling to contain the hemorrhagic fever.

In a statement Saturday, Guinea officials said lawbreakers would be punished and called "for calm and serenity to enable our partners to support us to eradicate this epidemic."

"The government has protested against such information and reiterates that only the recognition of the existence of the disease will help in the fight against it," it said.

"The contribution of (MSF) and all international organisations that are supporting Guinea in the fight against the pandemic is invaluable and has helped so far to contain the disease," the government said. "Without these partners, the disease would not be under control today."

Several other west African countries have geared up to tackle the epidemic including Mali, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The Ebola virus — transmitted to humans from wild animals, and between humans through direct contact with another's blood, faeces or sweat — leads to hemorrhagic fever, which causes muscle pain, weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea and, in severe cases, organ failure and unstoppable bleeding.

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Pam Wright

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