Ebola outbreak in West Africa kills at least 61
A recent outbreak of Ebola in the African nation of Guinea has resulted in the death of at least 61 people, three of whom are children, according to reports.
UNICEF released a statement to Agence France Presse (AFP) that read: "At least 59 out of 80 who contracted Ebola across the West African country 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 which type of virus they contract.
The Ebola virus is most commonly spread through direct contact with blood, sweat, feces and by sexual contact. It may also be spread through the unprotected handling of contaminated corpses.
"This outbreak is particularly devastating because medical staff is among the first victims... hindering the response and threatening normal care in a country already lacking in medical personnel," UNICEF said.
The health ministry's chief disease prevention officer, Sakoba Keita, said in a statement: "We are overwhelmed in the field, we are fighting against this epidemic with all the means we have at our disposal with the help of our partners but it is difficult. But we will get there."
Officials from UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) met Sunday for urgent talks regarding the crisis. In a statement released Monday, they said: "From January to March 23 Guinea has recorded a total of 87 suspected cases of viral hemorrhagic fever, including 61 deaths."
They later confirmed that The Pasteur Institute in Dakar worked urgently on the samples taken from suspected cases in Conarky, all of which were negative. "So for now, there's no Ebola in Conarky, but hemorrhagic fever whose nature remains to be determined," they stressed.