by Lola Adams
Reports from the World Health Organisation (WHO) say five people have died in Sierra Leone’s first confirmed outbreak of Ebola virus. This implies a new expansion of the disease which regional officials said had been brought under control. Prior to this outbreak, several suspected cases of Ebola were recorded in Sierra Leone earlier on in the West African outbreak, but they later tested negative for the disease.
The outbreak in Sierra Leone was located in an area along the country’s border with Guinea’s Guéckédou prefecture, where some of the earliest cases of the disease were recorded. The WHO said it was deploying six experts to the area along with essential supplies.
“Preliminary information received from the field indicates that one laboratory-confirmed case and five community deaths have been reported from Koindu chiefdom,” read the statement, posted on the WHO website.
However, a health ministry official in Sierra Leone, Amara Jambai, stated that only one death of the four deaths had been confirmed as an Ebola case. ‘’ The cause of death of the other three is still being investigated’’ Jambai said.
Ebola, a haemorrhagic fever with a fatality rate of up to 90 percent, is believed to have killed some 185 people in neighbouring Guinea and Liberia since March in the first deadly appearance of the disease in West Africa.
Hemorrhagic fevers like Ebola usually spread through direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person, or objects that have been contaminated with infected secretions. The Ebola virus leads to severe hemorrhagic fever and internal bleeding. There is no vaccine or specific treatment.
The West African outbreak spread from a remote corner of Guinea to the capital, Conakry, and into Liberia, causing panic across a region struggling with weak healthcare systems and porous borders.
A total of 258 clinical cases have been recorded in Guinea since the outbreak was first identified as Ebola, including 174 deaths – 95 confirmed, 57 probable and 57 suspected – according to the WHO.
The disease is also believed to have killed 11 people in Liberia.