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UN warns Ebola could affect 20,000
August 30, 2014, 8:27 am

Medical workers combat the Ebola virus in eastern Sierra Leone. Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria have also reported hundreds of cases of infection [Xinhua]

Medical workers combat the Ebola virus in eastern Sierra Leone. Guinea, Liberia and Nigeria have also reported hundreds of cases of infection [Xinhua]


The World Health Organisation (WHO) has warned that the Ebola virus outbreak could affect 20,000 people and spread beyond West Africa even as Senegal reported its first infected case.

According to the Ministry of Health in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, the infected patient is a university student from Guinea who disappeared three weeks ago.

He checked into a hospital in Dakar and on Friday was confirmed to have been infected with the deadly virus.

Over the weekend, the Democratic Republic of Congo reported 13 Ebola-related deaths that have been attributed to a separate strain of the virus.

The Ebola virus, also referred to as Ebola hemorrhagic fever because of one of its most visible symptoms, is an incurable disease with a very high fatality rate. It was first identified in 1976.

Some doctors have noted a fatality rate of at least 60 per cent, but WHO says that can be as high as 90 per cent.

Symptoms can appear as early as two days (and as late as three weeks) from infection and first include headaches, sudden weakness, severe fever and chills, throat and muscle pains. This is followed by vomiting and diarrhea.

The virus is known to debilitate multiple organ systems, leading to bleeding – or hemorrhaging.

“This is not a West African issue or an African issue. This is a global health security issue,” WHO’s Assistant Director-General Dr Bruce Aylward told reporters in Geneva.

The international organization says it has projected the virus to reach 10 countries in Africa.

WHO has made an international appeal for a $490-million fund to combat the virus and says it needs some 12,000 staff, including 750 disease prevention experts.

As of August 26, there were 3,069 confirmed Ebola patients of which 1,552 had died.

But WHO has cautioned that the true number of infected cases and deaths may actually be up to four times higher because a lot of Ebola-stricken people may not be reported to the authorities.

Source: Agencies

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