Update: Bloomberg is now reporting that Africa's largest outbreak of Ebola in seven years is now thought have spread from Guinea to Liberia. The report below develops chronologically from this afternoon. This is a fast breaking story. (See updates below to skip to current news.)
The latest Associated Press report from Conakry, capital of Guinea, Officials Rush to Contain Ebola Virus in Guinea clarifies an earlier report this morning which I pulled down after some confusion. Thanks to Wisper, Tortured Illogic, Iberian, and Jan4insight for helping to put together this better version. Some of their many contributions are noted below.
This morning, our own UN Dispatcher broke the story of Ebola Outbreak in Guinea, linking to a CNN story, At least 59 people dead in Guinea Ebola outbreak. Although nearly all reports on Google, including mine this morning, reported this as an Ebola outbreak, Whisper was the first to alert us to a story breaking later this morning that the Pasteur Institute was unable to identify Ebola in the samples they worked with over night. After going back to check, I noticed that even though the CNN story's title mentions an Ebola outbreak, its content says the disease is still unverified.
CNN reports At least 59 people dead in Guinea Ebola outbreak.
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.
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. ... "Isolation units are essential to prevent the spread of the disease, which is highly contagious,"
(Update: Reminder - this text is from the post this afternoon. It is now confirmed that Ebola is definitely in Guinea, but not yet in the capital of Conakry.)
What I now think from reading the Pasteur Institute sent to us by Wisper more carefully, is an Ebola epidemic has been identified in remote parts of Guinea, and even may have spread to Sierra Leone, that has killed 59 of 86 people exposed, but that no cases of Ebola have been identified from cases of people who have died in capital city Conakry. Tortured Illogic is correct about this, and I owe him thanks for spotting this error in my first post, which is why I took it down. It has taken me four hours to get this far in figuring this out this possible theory. But, there may be a second kind of a hemorrhagic-like illness in the capital that sample were taken from the patents with suspect symptoms. Just to be 100% safe, I'm going to keep the more cautious title, even though at least 3 dozen major outlets are all reporting this a confirmed Ebola.
From Guinea scrambles to contain deadly Ebola outbreak:
Conakry (AFP) - Aid workers and health officials battled Monday to contain west Africa's first outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus as tests on suspected cases in Conakry allayed fears that it had spread to the Guinean capital.
At least 59 people have died in an outbreak of the virulent virus raging through Guinea's southern forests but tests on three haemorrhagic fever cases -- two of them fatal -- in Conakry were negative, the government said.
"The Pasteur Institute in Dakar worked urgently all last night on samples taken from suspected cases here in Conakry, which were all negative," said Sakoba Keita, the health ministry's chief disease prevention officer.
"So for now, there's no Ebola in Conakry, but haemorrhagic fever whose nature remains to be determined."
Sorry for the length of this article but I want to clarify, what happened here.
This is the quote that caused me to say this morning, apparently in error that Ebola spread "from the south to Conakry."
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said in a statement on Sunday the Ebola virus had quickly spread from the south to Conakry.
There have been 86 cases of Ebola with 56 death in other parts of Guinea, with reports in the last few hours that it may have spread into regions of Sierra Leone.
Time Magazine provides more details in A Terrifying Ebola Outbreak in West Africa Is Spreading Fast. Ebola epidemics are of special concern because there are no known treatments or vaccines and the virus kill up to 90 percent of those infected. 59 out 80 exposed have died so far.
There are no known treatments or vaccines for Ebola, a viral hemorrhagic fever that kills up to 90 percent of those who become infected, depending on the strain of the virus. The virus is spread through direct contact with blood, feces or sweat, by sexual contact or unprotected handling of contaminated corpses. First discovered in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1976, the disease has spread in several outbreaks, mainly in sub-Saharan Africa.
“This outbreak is particularly devastating because medical staff are among the first victims … hindering the response and threatening normal care in a country already lacking in medical personnel,” UNICEF said.
The organization has sent five tons of aid to the country’s most affected regions, and has urged Guineans not to attend funerals when possible and to avoid all contact with the sick and the dead.
A special challenge in this region are the tribal funeral customs of touching the dead to show affection.
And, finally, the most recent from ABC news Officials Rush to Contain Ebola Virus in Guinea.
The Ebola virus leads to severe hemorrhagic fever in its victims and has no vaccine or specific treatment. The new cases in Guinea mark the first time in 20 years that an outbreak of the virus has been reported in West Africa.
"The Ebola fever is one of the most virulent diseases known to mankind with a fatality rate up to 90 percent," said Ibrahima Toure, Guinea's country director for the aid group Plan International.
"Communities in the affected region stretch across the borders and people move freely within this area. This poses a serious risk of the epidemic becoming widespread with devastating consequences," he said.
In Guinea, efforts were underway to keep the virus from reaching the capital of Conakry, home to some 3 million people. Panic erupted Sunday amid reports that two of the deaths had occurred in the capital. However, on Monday authorities said that those cases were only under investigation and later proved not to be positive for the virus.
Our hopes and prayers our with the victims and their loved ones. Let's hope they contain and control this outbreak as soon as possible.
Of special interest to us as Democrats is that outbreaks such as this highlight the need for local, national, and even international governmental responses to act as agents of the collective good. Guinea deserves praise that all medical services are being provided free in this case. Imagine that they had a health care system like ours, where uninsured patients were hesitant to call ambulances or report symptoms for fear of costs that might leave them bankrupt.
Public health responses during epidemics are best handled by government looking out for the best interests of all of our people, not by for-profit companies catering only to their clients who can pay for their services. Where would we be now if we had not invested in developing the capabilities of the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and other kinds of public and global health organizations the Republicans want to cut?
1:01 PM PT: Ebola Suspected to Have Spread From Guinea to Liberia
Africa’s biggest Ebola outbreak in seven years has probably spread from Guinea to neighboring Liberia and also threatens Sierra Leone.
Five people are suspected to have died from the disease in Lofa county in northern Liberia, Bernice Dahn, Liberia’s chief medical officer, said at a briefing today. At least 86 cases and 59 deaths have been recorded across Guinea, the west African country’s health ministry said today. The capital, Conakry, hasn’t been affected, government spokesman Albert Damantang Camara said, after the United Nations Children’s Fund said the outbreak had spread there.
“The forest region where Unicef delivered the emergency assistance on Saturday is located along the border with Sierra Leone and Liberia with many people doing business and moving between the three countries,” said Laurent Duvillier, a Unicef spokesman, in an e-mail today. “Risk of international spread should be taken seriously.”
Unicef plans to dispatch 5 metric tons of aid, including medical supplies, to the worst-affected areas. Suspected cases of the lethal hemorrhagic disease were being investigated in Guinea’s southeast border areas, the World Health Organization said yesterday.
1:20 PM PT: Lauren Friedman of Reuters reports at 2:13 pmWhy The New Ebola Outbreak Is So Scary
The mysterious, fatal disease that has been spreading across the West African nation of Guinea since first emerging in February is now known to be Ebola, a French laboratory confirmed over the weekend.
Six samples from Guinea tested positive for Ebola, although the 59 "mysterious" deaths that have been reported are likely from a variety of causes, including but potentially not limited to Ebola.
The Ebola virus is among the most feared of all pathogens — for good reason. Experts place it high on the list of potential bioterrorism threats.
The progression of symptoms is terrifying. Initially, the fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache, and sore throat associated with Ebola could be mistaken for a bad flu.
But it is soon followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and impaired organ function. A large proportion of those infected also bleed profusely, both internally and externally. Blood often flows from puncture sites (e.g., where IVs have been inserted) and mucous membranes (e.g., the nose, the eyelids).
Another important distinction we learn from this Business Insider Article is that Ebola is one "of at least 30 viruses" which cause a "constellation of symptoms, called viral hemorrhagic fever syndrome."
1:24 PM PT: Title changed from "Guinea official rush to contain spread of hemorrhagic fever virus (probably Ebola) to "Africa's largest outbreak of Ebola in seven years suspected of spreading to Liberia" based on confirmation by multiple credible sources.
3:03 PM PT: World Health Organization Fact Sheet
EHF is a severe acute viral illness often characterized by the sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings show low counts of white blood cells and platelets as well as elevated liver enzymes.
People are infectious as long as their blood and secretions contain the virus. Ebola virus was isolated from seminal fluid up to the 61st day after the onset of illness in a laboratory acquired case.
The incubation period (interval from infection to onset of symptoms) varies between 2 to 21 days.
The significance of the incubation period is that sometime the most dangerous people in terms of spreading an epidemic are those who are contagious but not yet aware of it our showing dramatically conspicuous symptoms.
So the deaths we've seen so far may have been infected several weeks ago. We may not actually know where the invisible front of this epidemic is.
3:15 PM PT: Ebola Breaks Out In West Africa For The First Time
DNA analyses suggest Guinea is dealing with one of the most deadly forms of , called Zaire. That strain typically kills about 80 percent of the people infected. There's no treatment or vaccine for the virus. ...
Ebola outbreaks can be contained once health workers know what they're dealing with.
This last line, if true, implies that by the time blood levels of the virus are high enough to be infectious, symptoms are already sufficiently conspicuous that health care and government officials can effectively contain the spread, which is what I have been researching.
If the invisible front of of the epidemic is close to the visible front it will be much easier to contain. The issue is how soon are people infection before or after visible symptoms appear. We know latency from exposure to symptoms is 2 to 21 days. When does someone become able to infect another?