Skip to main content

At least 59 people dead in Guinea Ebola outbreak

By Christabelle Fombu and Susanna Capelouto, CNN
updated 11:28 AM EDT, Sun March 23, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Medical charity MSF to set up isolation units in affected areas
  • At least 59 out of 80 who contracted Ebola have died, UNICEF says
  • Most cases were in Guinea's southern forest areas, health minister says
  • Symptoms include fever, vomiting and diarrhea

(CNN) -- An Ebola outbreak has killed at least 59 people in Guinea, UNICEF said, as the deadly hemorrhagic fever has quickly spread from southern communities in the West African nation.

Experts in the country had been unable to identify the disease, whose symptoms -- diarrhea, vomiting and fever -- were first observed last month.

Health Minister Remy Lamah said Saturday initial test results confirm the presence of a viral hemorrhagic fever, which according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention refers to a group of viruses that affect multiple organ systems in the body.

In a written statement, UNICEF said at least 59 out of 80 people who contracted Ebola have died. At least three of the victims were children.

How Ebola virus spreads

"In Guinea, a country with a weak medical infrastructure, an outbreak like this can be devastating," the UNICEF representative in Guinea, Dr. Mohamed Ag Ayoya, said in the statement.

UNICEF has prepositioned supplies and stepped up communication on the ground to sensitize medical staff and local populations on how to avoid contracting the illness, Agoya added.

Isolation units

The Guinean Health Ministry warned that the disease is mainly spread from infected people, from objects belonging to ill or dead people, and by the consumption of meat from animals in the bush.

So far, most of the cases have been in the forest area of southern Guinea, and health officials say they are offering free treatment for all patients.

They've urged people to stay calm, wash their hands and report all cases to authorities.

The international medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres announced on Saturday it was reinforcing its medical and logistics teams in Guinea in response to the epidemic.

It is also flying in 33 tons of medicines and equipment and setting up isolation units in the three affected areas in the country.

"Isolation units are essential to prevent the spread of the disease, which is highly contagious," Dr. Esther Sterk, MSF tropical medicine adviser, said in a written statement. "Specialized staff are providing care to patients showing signs of infection."

2012: Uganda declares end of Ebola outbreak

CNN's Marie-Louise Gumuchian and Nana Karikari-apau contributed to this report

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:35 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
Hamas' tactics have changed -- now the group is using commando-like tactics, says CNN's Ben Wedeman.
updated 11:40 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Some contend that larger weapons have come into Ukraine from Russia.
updated 9:11 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
A nun, an AIDS researcher, an athlete and a family traveling on summer vacation. These were some of the victims aboard MH17.
updated 8:21 PM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Prince George isn't your average one year old. He started walking before he was one. Oh, and, he's going to be king -- of 16 countries.
updated 7:36 AM EDT, Mon July 21, 2014
Former President Bill Clinton acknowledges he got "very close" to helping achieve peace in the Middle East.
updated 2:21 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
In an ambitious plan to upgrade urban India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi says he will build 100 "smart cities" across the country.
updated 7:27 AM EDT, Sun July 20, 2014
Inspirational, creepy or just weird? CNN meets the 51-year-old man who dresses like a schoolgirl.
updated 7:00 AM EDT, Thu July 17, 2014
A British nanotech company has created what it says is the world's darkest material.
updated 7:12 AM EDT, Fri July 18, 2014
Yoga, meditation and watching a snake eat a frog alive: these are some of the experiences to be had at this Himalayan yoga retreat.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
updated 7:52 AM EDT, Tue July 22, 2014
The world's largest flying aquatic insect, with huge, nightmarish pincers, has been discovered in China's Sichuan province, experts say.
ADVERTISEMENT