Ebola spreads for first time, suspected in Canada

African health workers battle Ebola; suspected Canada case

By Mouctar Bah
AFP: March 24, 2014

Conakry (AFP) – Health officials in Guinea battled to contain west Africa’s first outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus as neighbouring Liberia reported its first suspected victims and a traveller returning to Canada was hospitalised with suspicious symptoms.

At least 59 people are known to have died in Guinea’s southern forests and there are six suspected cases in Liberia which, if confirmed, would mark the first spread of the highly contagious pathogen into another country.

And there are fears the virus may have crossed continents, with a man returning to Canada from Liberia seriously ill in hospital after experiencing symptoms consistent with the virus, health officials said.

“As of this morning six cases have been reported of which five have already died — four female adults and one male child. One of the suspected cases, a female child, is under treatment,” Liberian Health Minister Walter Gwenigale said in a statement.

“The team is already investigating the situation, tracing contacts, collecting blood samples and sensitising local health authorities on the disease,” he added.

Gwenigale did not specify the victims’ nationalities, but Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said they were Liberian residents who had attended funerals in the Ebola-hit area of Guinea, which has strong “family ties” with northern Liberia.

“People come to attend funerals on one side and unfortunately they unwittingly get infected and then return home,” Brussels-based MSF emergency coordinator Marie-Christine Ferir told AFP.

The local health ministry in Canada’s Saskatchewan province said a man had been placed in solitary confinement, with his family in quarantine, pending expected results on Tuesday of tests.

“All we know at this point is that we have a person who is critically ill who travelled from a country where these diseases occur,” Denise Werker, joint director of health in Saskatchewan, in western Canada, said.

To date, no treatment or vaccine is available for the Ebola pathogen, which kills between 25 and 90 percent of those who fall sick, depending on the strain of the virus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

(read the full article at Yahoo)

UPDATE: Tests conducted in a Winnipeg lab have ruled out Ebola along with fellow hemorrhagic fevers Marburg, Lassa and two others as the cause of the man’s symptoms. While his actual illness remains a mystery, the Public Health Agency of Canada told the CBC that the risk is still low.

The World Health Organization’s head of public relations said they now suspect the man may have malaria. Tests are ongoing.

(Source of update: The Albatross)

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