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Deadly West Africa disease ID'd as Ebola

| Saturday, March 22, 2014, 7:30 p.m.

CONAKRY, Guinea — Guinea has received confirmation, its government said on Saturday, that a mysterious disease that has killed up to 59 people in the West African country is one of the deadliest viral diseases known to humankind — Ebola.

Cases of the hemorrhagic fever, which has a fatality rate of up to 90 percent, have been registered in three southeastern towns and in the capital Conakry since Feb. 9. It is the first time the disease has been recorded in Guinea.

“We got the first results from (France) ... which informed us of the presence of the Ebola virus as the cause of this outbreak,” said Sakoba Keita, chief disease prevention officer at the Guinean health ministry.

Guinea health officials have registered 80 suspected cases of the disease, including 59 deaths.

The outbreak of Ebola may have spread to neighboring Sierra Leone.

World Health Organization officials said that cases showing similar symptoms, including diarrhea, vomiting and bleeding, had been reported in an area of Sierra Leone near the border with Guinea.

Sierra Leone's chief medical officer, Dr. Brima Kargbo, said authorities were investigating the case of a 14-year-old boy who had traveled to Guinea to attend the funeral of one of the outbreak's first victims.

Doctors Without Borders, the international medical charity, announced it was flying in 33 tons of medicines and equipment in response to the epidemic. It will set up isolation units in the three affected towns in Guinea.

“These structures are essential to prevent the spread of the disease, which is highly contagious,” Dr. Esther Sterk said.

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