A deadly but as yet unidentified virus is spreading through the Guinean capital of Conarky. So far, at least 61 people have died. The disease carries many of the same symptoms of Ebola, including internal and external bleeding, and violent diarrhea and vomiting.
Ebola is one of the world’s most deadly and feared diseases. Besides claiming between 25 to 90 percent of its victims, Ebola is also known for being extremely contagious. The disease is also extremely painful and very difficult to treat, and there is currently no cure or vaccine. As such, it should come as no surprise that the recent outbreak of a disease displaying similar symptoms has caused panic among the country’s residents.
Ebola-like disease turns up in Canada
While the outbreak of such deadly diseases might seem like a “third world problem” the risk of it spreading internationally is very real. Already, a Canadian man who returned from West Africa has come down with Ebola-like symptoms, likely from the same disease now afflicting the region.
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Ebola normally spreads from person to person, though airborne strains have been observed among animals. How the current mystery disease spreads remains unknown. If the disease is airborne, it could prove especially difficult to contain.
The disease is also popping up across Western Africa, one of the poorest regions in the world. Countries in Western Africa lack the resources to combat such a serious disease. At the same time, cross-border trade and travel is frequent, so the disease could quickly spread
The WHO and local governments in the region are on the lookout for the disease. People have been warned to minimize human contact and to wash their hands frequently. People who have recently traveled to West Africa need to remain vigilant and should seek treatment immediately if they feel ill.
Health agencies have not yet identified disease
Health agencies have conducted tests to see if the disease is Ebola, but have so far come up negative. While the disease is not Ebola, doctors do not yet know if this is a good or bad thing. Hopefully, the disease will prove to be more mild, but in fact it could turn out to be just as serious, if not more so.
So far, 87 cases have been identified with at least 61 people having succumbed to the mystery disease. At least 5 patients in neighboring Liberia have also been hospitalized with similar conditions. Whether these people are suffering from the mystery disease or another disease remains unknown. There are also rumors circulating that the disease may have spread to Sierra Leone.
With world organizations such as the WHO facing restrained resources due to tight finances around the globe, containing the spread of the disease may prove to be more complicated than in the past. Not that containing such deadly diseases has ever been an easy task.
Guinea already struggling with other public health issues
Guinea is one of Africa’s poorest countries, with a nominal per capital GDP of less than $600 dollars per year. The country does have considerable deposits of natural resources, including 25 percent of the world’s bauxite supplies, but finances remain strained.
As such, it should come as no surprise that the country has been struggling to deal with and contain measles, cholera, and meningitis, among other diseases. Further, poor nutrition standards and inadequate access to clean water mean that people who might otherwise be healthy are vulnerable to diseases.
The next few days may prove crucial. If health experts are not able to bring the disease under control quickly, the risk of a serious epidemic could become extremely serious. With the death rate among identified cases already so high, the results could be catastrophic.