Ebola: WHO asks West African countries to monitor travellers

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The World Health Organisation on Friday warned West African countries, which share boundaries with countries hit by the Ebola epidemic to prepare for the possible arrival of travellers carrying the deadly virus.

Those already hit by the pandemic are Mali, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Guinea Bissau.

An online news agency, Reuters, reported on Friday that the outbreak persisted especially in forested areas of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, while its spread was being fuelled by unsafe burial practices that infect relatives handling bodies.

A WHO medical officer, Dr. Pierre Formenty, who addressed journalists in Geneva, Switszerland, said, “We want other countries in West Africa to be ready – bordering countries, Ivory Coast, Mali, Senegal, Guinea Bissau – to prepare themselves in case people affected with the disease may be also travelling.”

The report said the United Nations health organisation had recorded 635 infections, including 399 deaths, in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia since the outbreak began in February.

The report quoted Formenty as saying some of the sick had travelled to get medical treatment, spreading the disease to big cities such as the Guinea capital, Conakry and the Liberian capital, Monrovia.

“Roads exist in all of West Africa. There are roads going to Bamako, going to Abidjan, going to Dakar,” the WHO officer added.

Reuters reported that Ebola causes vomiting and diarrhoea, impairs kidney and liver function and may cause internal and external bleeding.

“It kills up to 90 per cent of those infected. It is spread by close contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected people or high-risk animals such as monkeys. The incubation period is from 2 to 21 days and there is no treatment or vaccine,” the report said.

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