CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) — Two new deaths from the deadly Ebola disease were announced Monday by health authorities in Guinea and Sierra Leone, raising fears that the first outbreak in West Africa is not yet under control. The new fatalities are far from where the outbreak began.
There are also several other deaths suspected to be from Ebola that have not been confirmed by tests.
The death announced Monday in Sierra Leone is the country’s first official confirmed case, though it had been on high alert ever since the disease appeared in Guinea.
Guinea said Monday that at least one new death emerged in Telimele, 270 kilometers (167 miles) from the region where the outbreak first occurred. Guinea also has eight new suspected Ebola deaths. Medics are observing 86 people because they are suspected to have been exposed to the deadly disease, according to Guinean health officials. In addition to the death, two deaths suspected to be Ebola are in Telimele and and six are in Macenta, at the epicenter of the crisis.
Guinea has had most of the 170 deaths from Ebola in the current outbreak in West Africa. There have been a few deaths in Liberia and now at least one in Sierra Leone.
The case in Sierra Leone was announced on radio Monday by the Director of Disease Prevention and Control, Dr. Amara Jambai. He said the confirmed Ebola death was near Sierra Leone’s border with Guinea.
More than 10 other deaths suspected to be from Ebola are in that area of Sierra Leone, according to a local newspaper. A medical team has been sent to the Kenema District to try to contain any further spread of the disease.
The new cases are a setback to the efforts to control the Ebola outbreak.
There is no cure and no vaccine for Ebola, which causes a high fever and severe bleeding. The current outbreak is unusual for West Africa as the disease is typically found in the center and east of the continent.
Ebola can incubate for up to 21 days before an infected person shows any symptoms. Doctors like to wait 42 days – two incubation periods – after the last known infection before declaring an outbreak over.
The mortality rate for this outbreak thus far is close to 70 percent, according to the World Health Organization.
Macaulay reported from Freetown, Sierra Leone.