Via Reliefweb, an IRIN report: Curbing West Africa’s Ebola outbreak. Excerpt:
DAKAR, 26 March 2014 (IRIN) - As health authorities and aid groups work to contain the spread of Ebola in Guinea which has killed 59 people and infected scores of others since January, suspected cases have emerged in neighbouring Liberia, prompting calls for a regional response.
Haemorrhagic fever symptoms first appeared in Guinea’s southern forested region. Eighty-six people have so far been infected. Authorities are urging restriction of movement and observance of hygiene to prevent further infections.
The cases have mainly been reported in the four southern districts of Guéckédou, Macenta, Nzérékoré and Kissidougou near the border with Sierra Leone and Liberia. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has dispatched some 33 tons of medicines and equipment to Guinea to help curtail the epidemic which is infecting 1-3 people a day.
“It’s happening along the border, so what we’ve been doing now is to start a collaboration between these neighbouring countries,” said Francis Kasolo, director of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Disease Prevention and Control Unit in Africa. “Conferences are being held between these three countries to ensure that whenever there is a suspected case it can be identified quickly and appropriate response can be taken.”
In Guinea’s Guéckédou area, district health chief Moussa Kolié said: “We have begun training nurses to help contain as much as possible the spread of new cases.” Funeral gatherings and unnecessary hospital visits were being discouraged, he said.
MSF has deployed medical teams to Guinea’s affected areas, where the organization is setting up isolation centres and people thought to have been in contact with those infected are traced and also quarantined.
“This is the only way to try and contain the spread,” Reinaldo Ortuno, a doctor with MSF, told IRIN.
Ortuno pointed out that the failure of the epidemiology surveillance system explains the high number of cases registered so far.
Sakoba Kéïta, head of Guinea’s Health Ministry disease prevention unit, called for the observance of basic hygiene and avoiding eating meat the origin of which is unknown.
“We are calling on those who attended funerals of those who died of this disease to present themselves for identification and wash all their items with chlorine solution… and ensure they get medical observation for at least three weeks to one month,” Kéïta said.
Ebola is transmitted to humans through contact with blood, body fluids or organs of infected animals. Infections have been reported in Africa following the handling of chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, or antelopes and porcupines in tropical forests, according to WHO.