Ebola Confirmed in Conakry, Guinea

At the time of this posting (11h15 EST, March 28 2014), the World Health Organization and Guinea's Ministry of Health have confirmed four cases of Ebola in Guinea's capital, Conakry. This news came yesterday evening. According to Reuters, the four cases are in isolation in Donka hospital. One additional suspected case in Conakry died without laboratory testing. The WHO now reports 103 suspected cases and 66 deaths. Among the deaths are four health care workers. Fifteen suspected cases were reported to the WHO yesterday, including the five suspected cases in Conakry (four tested positive), two in Macenta, and eight in Guekedou. To date, there is no confirmation of Ebola in Sierra Leone or Liberia, but Sierra Leone reports six suspected cases with five suspected deaths, and according to the latest Epidemic and Pandemic Alert and Repsonse post from the WHO (March 27), Liberia reports eight suspected cases with six suspected deaths. However, also on March 27, AllAfrica.com posted a press release in which Liberia's Ministry of Health and Social Welfare decreased the suspected case and death count to six and four. The suspected cases in Liberia reportedly have previous travel history to Guekedou. 

Laboratories and laboratory teams will continue to test samples for Ebola. French, Senegalese and German laboratories have confirmed that Zaire ebolavirus is causing the outbreak.  

The WHO has emphasized that this is a rapidly changing situation and that countries neighboring Guinea should increase surveillance for signs of illness at their borders. However, the WHO has not recommended any travel or trade restrictions to be applied to Guinea, Sierra Leone, or Liberia at this time. GhanaWeb.com reports that Ghanaian health officials and lawmakers met on Wednesday to discuss the creation of an inter-agency task force to aid with public education, health, and safety measures that can be taken to prevent the arrival and spread of the disease in Ghana. The Standard reports that Kenya will be conducting special checks at all ports of entry on those that have traveled from Guinea. Togo's Ministry of Health is also issuing warnings of Ebola through reminders of the symptoms and good hygiene practices. 

According to the CDC, the last time that the Zaire subspecies of Ebola caused an outbreak was in the Democratic Republic of Congo in December 2008. The outbreak was much smaller; there were 32 recorded cases and 15 deaths. The outbreak lasted until February 2009. A year prior, the Democratic Republic of Congo suffered a much larger outbreak, also caused by the Zaire ebolavirus, with 264 recorded cases and 187 recorded deaths. Based on the information available from the CDC, since 1976 when the Zaire ebolavirus was first discovered, it has caused outbreaks with case fatality rates ranging from 47 percent to 100 percent. It should be noted that in the three instances in which there was a case fatality rate of 100 percent, there was only one recorded case. However, many outbreaks caused by Zaire ebolavirus have case fatality rates between 60 and 80 percent. 

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